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Sexual Assault Policy

Gordon College is deeply concerned about any incident of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a criminal act that causes enormous pain, both to the individuals directly involved and to the community. It is punishable by civil and criminal legal action. It is also a serious violation of the life and conduct standards of Gordon College and it will not be tolerated within our community.

Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault: woman, man or child. A perpetrator can be anyone, as well: a stranger, someone you have known for a long time, or someone you have just met. Statistics indicate that one in four women will be raped during her lifetime, and that rape is often perpetrated by an acquaintance.

As a Christian college committed to personal and institutional integrity, Gordon College must be fully transparent and forthright about the nature of criminal incidents, including sexual assault. To that end, the college has established a sexual assault policy, designed to educate the campus community about:

  1. the definitions of sexual assault,
  2. the rights of the victim and the accused,
  3. procedures for filing and resolving complaints, and
  4. resources available to victims of sexual assault.

A student who believes she or he has been a victim of sexual assault is encouraged to report it immediately. The Gordon Police employs trained sexual assault investigators who are on call to take confidential reports at any time. Investigators will also inform victims of their rights, options for further action, and the broad range of other services available. Reporting a sexual assault to the Gordon Police does not obligate the student to pursue criminal charges, but it does help ensure the future availability of these options. Gordon College students are responsible to be familiar with and abide by the standards of conduct set forth in the sexual assault policy.

Definitions

  • Indecent assault and battery is defined as the intentional, nonconsensual, indecent touching of another. Under Massachusetts law, the following acts are included in this definition:
    • Any intentional, nonconsensual touching of another person’s genitals, buttocks or breasts; or,
    • Intentional, nonconsensual touching of the abdomen, buttocks, or inner thigh with distinctly sexual overtones.
       
  • Additional Considerations about Indecent Assault and Battery:
    • Under Massachusetts law, nonconsensual insertion of the tongue into another’s mouth may be considered indecent assault and battery.
    • Force and violence are NOT necessary elements of this crime.
    • Under Massachusetts law, children under the age of 14 are incapable of consenting to the above forms of sexual touching. If the victim is between the 14 and 16, the jury will determine whether the victim was capable of consent.
       
  • Rape is the forcible, nonconsensual penetration, however slight, of another person’s anal or genital opening by any part of the body or with any object, or forcible oral sex with penetration. These acts are considered forcible and nonconsensual if either of the following is true:
    • They were committed by force and against a person’s will, or by threat of force (whether verbal or implied); or,
    • They were committed without consent due to mental or physical incapacitation (including, but not limited to, unconsciousness, intoxication, impaired mental status, being asleep).
       
    • Note: Under Massachusetts law a child under age 16 is not capable of giving consent; in such cases, all of the above acts are considered rape regardless of whether there was force or consent.

Resources:

On-campus:

GORDON POLICE:
Location: Rodger Reception Center at the main entrance to campus
Phone: 978.867.4444 (non-emergency) or 978.867.3333 (emergency).
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Contact the Gordon Police to file a report, to file a complaint with the college or a criminal complaint, and to learn about other options and services (See section on Reporting an Incident, Filing a Complaint, and Pursuing Criminal Charges)

TITLE IX COORDINATOR:
Location: Emery 107
Phone: 978.867.4240
Hours: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Nancy Anderson, Director of Human Resources
Email:
Contact the Title IX Coordinator to file a report, to file a complaint with the college, and to learn about other reporting options and services (See section on Reporting an Incident, and Filing a Complaint with the College)

COUNSELING CENTER:
Location: Jenks 201 & 202
Phone: 978.867.4301
Hours: Monday–Thursday: 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Friday: 8:30–11:30 a.m.
Contact the Counseling Center to speak with a counselor. All services are confidential and free. (See section on Support)

HEALTH CENTER:
Location: Lane Student Center, downstairs
Phone: 978.867.4300
Hours: Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Contact the Health Center to receive medical attention. All services are confidential and free. (See section on Support)

CENTER FOR STUDENT DEVELOPMENT:
Location: Lane Student Center, 2nd floor
Phone: 978.867.4072
Contact the Center for Student Development to file a complaint with the Judicial Officer (See section on Filing a Complaint with the College)

Off-campus:

EMERGENCY: 911

WENHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT
Emergency: 911
Business Phone: 978.468.4000
To make a criminal complaint regarding a rape or sexual assault (note: a criminal complaint can also be made by contacting the Gordon Police)

NORTH SHORE RAPE CRISIS CENTER
Phone: 1.800.922.8772
24 hour hotline for free and confidential care regarding a rape or sexual assault

BEVERLY HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM:
Location: 85 Herrick Street, Beverly, MA 01915
Phone: 978.922.3000

Rape Kit: The hospital will offer a rape kit, which involves an exam and aftercare instructions. The exam must take place within 5 days in order for the exam findings to be accurate for use as evidence. The sooner the exam is done, the better. It is best to refrain from showering and changing clothes, but it is still possible to complete a rape kit even if this is not the case. After the exam is complete they provide aftercare instructions for the patient and offer emergency contraception as required by law. 

Rights of Victims:

The college assists victims of sexual assault. Victims are entitled to free and confidential health care services through the Health Center, free and confidential counseling services through the Counseling Center, and to file a complaint with the Judicial Officer, Title IX Coordinator or local law enforcement (either the Gordon Police or the Wenham Police). The Student Handbook contains the policies and procedures of the campus judicial system, which will be followed should a complaint be filed.

Additional rights include, but are not limited to:

  • The right to bring a friend or counselor (who is not connected to the case) to any appointments and any judicial procedures
  • The right to choose to file or not to file a formal complaint
  • The right to pursue charges in the criminal or civil courts
  • The right to appeal a decision of the Judicial Board (see the Student Handbook)
  • The right to a closed hearing
  • The right to request that the hearing proceeding occur in such a fashion that you and the accused are never in the same room together
  • The right to request that living or academic situations be changed, if necessary, during the process
  • The right to be informed of the outcome of your case

CONSENT:

Consent to any sexual activity is pivotal to the reduction and prevention of sexual assault and coercion.

Consent is a voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, informed, mutual, honest and verbal agreement. It is an active agreement and cannot be coerced. Consent is a process, which must be given for every sexual act. It cannot be assumed and is never implied, even in a relationship. The absence of “no” does not mean “yes.”

To avoid a charge of sexual assault, affirmative consent is required, either verbally or by voluntary acts unmistakable in their meaning. Within a community that prohibits premarital and extramarital sexual encounters, any confusion or ambiguity about consent should be lessened, and morally responsible behavior should be the norm.

Consent is not just about getting a “yes” or “no” answer, it is about communicating and making joint decisions in a manner that respects and honors the needs and desires of both partners. Communicating clearly about sexual expectations eliminates the entitlement that one partner may feel over the other. If a person is not absolutely sure that his/her partner is consenting without coercion he/she should stop.

Under current Massachusetts law, intercourse is generally considered to be committed by force and against a person’s will if:

  • The person is unconscious
  • The person is asleep
  • The person is drugged
  • The person is intoxicated
  • The person is mentally impaired or deficient so that he or she cannot agree to the act

Procedures:

If you are a victim of a sexual assault while on campus you are asked to report the incident to the Judicial Officer, the Title IX Coordinator, the Gordon Police, or a local law enforcement agency. You are also encouraged to seek medical care at the Health Center, or a local hospital emergency room. In addition, you may file a complaint and/or pursue criminal charges.

If you make a report, no further action will be taken.

If you also file a complaint, the college will investigate all complaints of sexual assaults and will take appropriate disciplinary action in each instance. It will also provide information on pursuing criminal or other legal actions. Additionally, it will provide health care, counseling, advocacy and other support services on campus for students and visitors who are victims of sexual assault.

If you have been victimized, do not blame yourself. The person who has committed the assault is responsible. Sexual assault, or the continuation of unwanted behavior when you have stated you wish it to stop, is a violation of the law. Sexual intercourse, without your consent, even with someone you know, is rape.

Making a Report to the College:

You are encouraged to report to the Gordon Police or a local law enforcement agency any incident involving a sexual assault. A report is an account or description of a specific incident. You may make a report without filing a complaint. If you make a report but do not file a complaint, no investigation will occur, and nothing further will be done with the information.

You may make a report in person or in writing. You will need to explain where and when the incident took place and whether the assailant is known to you. The officer will make sure you are safe, and encourage and assist you in getting appropriate medical care.

Filing a Complaint with the College:

Filing a complaint is different from reporting an incident. A complaint is a request that the college investigate the incident. You may file a complaint with the Gordon Police, or with the Judicial Officer at the Center for Student Development.

Should you decide to make a complaint you will be asked to assist the police with the investigation and provide them with details of what happened and with the collection of all relevant evidence.

Note: In order for the Judicial Officer to pursue charges, you must file a complaint within a year of the date of the incident.

Pursuing Criminal Charges:

Every victim of a sexual assault maintains the right to file criminal charges with the appropriate local law enforcement agency in addition to making a report and/or filing a complaint with the college. For more information about pursuing criminal charges, contact the Gordon Police.

Ultimately, the decision to file a complaint or pursue criminal charges is yours. You have the option of simply reporting the incident without filing a complaint and/or pursuing criminal charges, but you are strongly encouraged to make a report of any incidence of sexual assault.

Support:

Counseling Services:
If you have been sexually assaulted or are unsure of whether you have been, you need a safe, confidential place to talk about what has occurred. When you are ready, the Gordon College Counseling Center provides free counseling to Gordon students by professional licensed counselors, who are able to support you during this confusing and scary time. If you have been sexually assaulted, you may find yourself feeling alone, more fearful, unable to make it to class, having difficulty eating, or eating too much, not sleeping at all, or sleeping more than normal, feeling sad, crying, or feeling nothing at all.

Our counselors are here to help you, to listen to you, and support you in all aspects of being a victim of sexual assault. Individuals who have been sexually assaulted often blame themselves. The Counseling Center offers a place for you to process what has happened in a non-judgmental, supportive environment to determine what, if anything, you would like to do, and to help you begin to heal.

Counseling is confidential and all information shared in counseling will not be shared with anyone else without the student’s written consent, except in “life-threatening” situations or by court subpoena.

To Make an Appointment: Fill out an online intake form via the Go Site: select “Departments,” then “Counseling,” and click on “Counseling Center Intake Registration Form.” The intake coordinator will contact you within 24 hours to schedule you for an appointment. You may also come to the Counseling Center and fill out an intake form in person.

Location and Hours: The Counseling Center is located in Hilton Hall, directly across the street from the Bennett Center. The Counseling Center is open Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Friday 8:30–11:30 a.m. and other hours by appointment. After hours, counselors can be contacted by the Center for Student Development (a Resident Director) or Public Safety.

Health Center:
The Health Center staff will encourage students to seek medical care as soon as possible after a rape/sexual assault and will support them through the process. Our contact point for this type of very specialized care is through the Beverly Hospital Emergency Department. We will call and alert them that a student is being referred and they will be prepared to spend whatever time it takes to evaluate and treat the student’s medical and emotional needs. They will offer the services of a trained crisis counselor from the North Shore Rape Crisis Center to explain each step of the process and to support the student until the evaluation is completed.

Location and Hours: The Health Center is located downstairs at the Lane Student Center. It is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. It is not necessary to make an appointment; students can walk in at any time during these hours and speak with a nurse. After hours, the Health Center staff can be contacted through the Center for Student Development (a Resident Director) or Public Safety.

Advocate:
Any victim of sexual assault has the right to an advocate. Advocates can be anyone the student selects, as long as the person is not in any way involved in the incident. The role of the advocate is to support and assist the student in making decisions and carrying out all necessary steps in caring for themselves following any sexual assault. Ideally, the advocate should be someone who is familiar with the procedures involved in sexual assaults, such as a counselor, a residence life staff member, or a nurse.

Responsibilities:

Gordon Police:

  • Enforce federal, state and local laws, as well as the college’s Life and Conduct Statement.
  • Assist victims of sexual assault to:
    • Help students know their options and obtain advice about possible steps
    • Receive medical attention, if needed
    • Make a report with the college
    • File a complaint with the college (if desired)
    • File criminal charges with the appropriate local law enforcement agency
  • The Gordon Police are required by law to inform the Title IX Coordinator of all reports of sexual assault; the Coordinator will ensure that the victim’s rights are preserved and that a thorough investigation is conducted.

Health Center:

  • Provide access to medical care for victims of sexual assault
  • Judicial Officer:
  • Administer and enforce the Life and Conduct Statement
  • Assist victims of sexual assault to file a complaint with the college

Judicial Officer

  • Administer and enforce the Life and Conduct Statement
  • Assist victims of sexual assault to file a complaint with the college
  • The Judicial Officer is required by law to inform the Title IX Coordinator of all reports of sexual assault; the Coordinator will ensure that the victim’s rights are preserved and that a thorough investigation is conducted.

Title IX Coordinator

  • Receives notification of all reports of sexual assault (both rape and indecent assault and battery), harassment, or sexual coercion that are made to any responsible employee of the college (including the campus police, judicial officer, residence life staff, etc.)
  • Assists victims of sexual assault to file a complaint with the college or file a criminal complaint
  • Ensures that a timely investigation is conducted for all reports of the above crimes
  • If it is determined that sexual assault, harassment or coercion occurred, ensures that prompt and effective steps are take to end the sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects
  • Ensures that the rights of both the victim and the accused are preserved during the investigation and adjudication process