This issue of The Mainstream focuses on the well-known #MeToo movement and all of the commentary and controversy, both social and political, which have developed because of the movement. The articles within will be using terms that many people are familiar with, however, this piece will focus on the legal definitions of the terms to establish a general baseline. Some terms may be defined differently in a social context and are not the focus here.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says “Harassment can include … unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Furthermore the EEOC states on its website, “Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision.”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” It should be noted that sexual violence falls within the definition of sexual assault.
This term is an encompassing term according to USLegal.com and includes, “… sexual harassment, sexual assault, and any conduct of a sexual nature that is without consent, or has the effect of threating or intimidating the person against whom such conduct is directed.”
According to the National Institute of Justice stalking is “conservatively defined” as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.”
The DOJ defines this very clearly as: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
Going back to USLegal.com shows that “Sexual battery is an unwanted form of contact with an intimate part of the body that is made for purposes of sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse. Sexual battery may occur whether the victim is clothed or not.”
The U.S. DOJ has updated the definition as of January 6, 2012: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
Law.com shows that this is “the crime of sexual acts with children up to the age of 18, including touching of private parts, exposure of genitalia, taking of pornographic pictures, rape, inducement of sexual acts with the molester or with other children and variations of these acts by pedophiles.” Also noted here by Law.com is that “Molestation also applies to incest by a relative with a minor family member and any unwanted sexual acts with adults short of rape.”
An important term to define in this landscape and the most succinct definition comes from The Pace Law Firm out of Austin, Texas. Simply put “In criminal law, an “allegation” is an unproven accusation.”
This definition is given by the Cornell Law School and is very thorough. Perhaps the largest issue being discussed is consent and so the Cornell Law School defines it in three parts as follows:
“(A) The term “consent” means a freely given agreement to the conduct at issue by a competent person. An expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent. Lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission resulting from the use of force, threat of force, or placing another person in fear does not constitute consent. A current or previous dating or social or sexual relationship by itself or the manner of dress of the person involved with the accused in the conduct at issue shall not constitute consent.
(B) A sleeping, unconscious, or incompetent person cannot consent. A person cannot consent to force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm or to being rendered unconscious. A person cannot consent while under threat or in fear.
(C) Lack of consent may be inferred based on the circumstances of the offense. All the surrounding circumstances are to be considered in determining whether a person gave consent, or whether a person did not resist or ceased to resist only because of another person’s actions.”
For more information and resources about sexual violence people can go to www.Futureswithoutviolence.org
For more information on the state of Oregon’s work regarding sexual assault go to www.OregonSATF.org
For help on UCC’s campus and more information, students can visit Veronica Joyce, Victim Services Coordinator, who is located in ESB 13.
If you suspect you or someone you know has been subject to any of the things covered in this article please contact April Hamlin, Dean of Student Services and Title IX Coordinator in the LaVerne Murphy Student Center. Hamlin can also be reached at 541-440-7860.