Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and sexual harassment. Sexual misconduct includes any unwelcome sexual contact, either directly or through clothing, which is committed by threat, or by force, or without the consent of the other person. Sexual contact may include deliberate contact between a body part of, or an object wielded by, one person, and the body part of another person.
Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Sexual misconduct can be committed by men or by women, and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.
Effective consent means words or actions that show an active, knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be gained by force, duress or deception, by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the actor knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation (see below).
Consent can be withdrawn at any moment.
Force means physical force, violence, intimidation, coercion, or a threat that would reasonably cause a person to fear for their physical or psychological well-being. Force is understood as pressure exercised by a person, implicit or explicit, which is physical, verbal, emotional or situational, and which prevents another person from freely giving or withholding consent.
Incapacitation means the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, reasonable judgments. States of incapacitation include, without limitation, sleep, blackouts and flashbacks. Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication, and is defined with respect to how the alcohol consumed impacts a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of the consequences and ability to make fully informed, reasonable judgments.
Intimidation means a verbal or non-verbal act that would indirectly cause a reasonable person to fear for their own safety or well-being or for the safety or well-being of another causing that person to do something they would not normally do. An implied threat is an example of intimidation.
Rape is a form of sexual assault which is committed by threat, or by force, or without consent, in which, either
- a bodily orifice is penetrated by a genital organ of another person or;
- a vaginal, urethral, or anal orifice is penetrated by a body part of or an object wielded by another person.
Either the person being penetrated or the person penetrating may be the victim of rape.
Sexual contact means the deliberate touching of a person’s intimate body parts (including genitalia, groin, breast or buttocks, or clothing covering any of those areas), or use of force to cause a person to touch his or her own or another person’s intimate parts.
Sexual exploitation means taking sexual advantage of another person without effective consent, and includes, without limitation:
- causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person;
- causing the prostitution of another person;
- electronically recording, photographing, or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds or images of another person;
- allowing third parties to observe sexual acts;
- engaging in voyeurism;
- distributing intimate or sexual information about another person;
- and/or knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, to another person.
Sexual harassment means conduct, including physical contact, advances and comments in person, by proxy, via telephone or cell phone, text message, email or any other electronic means including social networking websites that:
- was unwelcome to the recipient;
- is based on sex or gender stereotypes; and
- is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with a person’s academic performance or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from College programs or activities.
Sexual Harassment may include, depending upon the facts, persistent and unwelcome efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship; persistent and unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities; threatening to engage in the commission of a sexual act with another person; stalking or cyberstalking; and engaging in indecent exposure.
Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:
- oral, physical, written or pictorial communications relating to sexual activity, which have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance or which create a hostile, offensive or intimidating atmosphere for the recipient;
- unwelcome and irrelevant comments, references, gestures, or other forms of personal attention which are inappropriate to the academic or employment setting — for example, the classroom or office — and which may reasonably be perceived as sexual overtures or denigration;
- a request for sexual favors when submission to or rejection of such a request might be viewed as a basis for evaluative decisions affecting an individual’s career.
Stalking means repeated unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear. Stalking may occur between intimate partners, acquaintances or strangers.
Stalking behaviors include but are not limited to:
- following a person;
- appearing at a person’s room, class or place of employment;
- making harassing phone calls; sending letters or e-mails;
- communicating using social media;
- leaving written messages or objects; or
- vandalizing a person’s property.
State of Maine Laws on Sexual Assault
The State of Maine laws concerning sexual assault are found in several places. The relevant statutory titles and sections are: Title 17, sections 251-261-A