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Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is sexual contact by one person against another without consent. The law defines consent as positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity. A current or previous relationship does not constitute consent.

The most recent national study by the Justice Department found that the number of incidents in which female college students were sexually assaulted occurred at a rate of 35.3 incidents per 1,000. The survey defined sexual assault as completed or attempted rape, threats of rape, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact with force or the threat of force, and stalking.

Among the report’s findings are that nearly sixty percent of the rapes on campuses took place in the victims’ residences. Fewer than five percent of rapes and attempted rapes were reported to law enforcement officials. Sexual assaults are predominantly committed by men against women. However, men can be assaulted by women and same-sex assaults do occur. The majority of assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim and involve the use of alcohol by one or both persons. More information about sexual assault on college campuses is available at

Incidents of sexual assault are against the law and University policy. When you become aware that a student has experienced a sexual assault or has been the recipient of inappropriate and/or unwelcome physical contact:


  1. Be aware that when a student discloses information about an assault to you, s/he is demonstrating trust in you and the desire for help.
  2. Be aware that victims can feel intense shame, blame and anger towards themselves. Listen without conveying judgment.
  3. Be aware that victims are often hesitant to seek counseling. Students may be confused about what happened and question their own worthiness and/or fear they may face religious/Honor Code repercussions.
  4. When possible, speak to the student in private.
  5. Refer the student to Counseling and Psychological Services (801.422.3035). CAPS is a completely confidential resource for students, and will not communicate to parents, ecclesiastical leaders, or other campus offices without explicit consent from the student.
  6. Refer student to the 24-hour Rape Crisis Hot-line (801.356.2511) through the Center for Women and Children in Crisis for crisis counseling and medical counseling and the Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic for information and help dealing with the legal system.
  7. If appropriate, refer the student to the Equal Employment Office at 801.422.5895.
  8. Inform the student that BYU's Gender-Based Behavior Policy, including information on discrimination and sexual harrassment, can be found at BYU's Title IX office.
  9. Refer the student to University Police (801.422.2222) if the student wants to make a police report. BYU Police can facilitate cooperation with other departments should the incident need to be reported to another jurisdiction.
  10. In order to prosecute the crime of rape against an adult victim evidence must be collected within 72 hours of the crime. Encourage students to contact an advocate to assist them in understanding their options and the navigating the medical and legal system. Be aware of University and community resources available to victims. The following offices and individuals can provide students with additional information:

    • Melissa Jones, CAPS, 801.422.3035, the Sexual Assault Liaison for the University.
    • Aaron Rhodes, BYU Police, 801.422.3932.
    • Provo Police, Victim Advocate Office, 801.852.6251.
    • Orem Police, Victim Assistance Coordinator, 801.229.7128.


  1. Minimize the situation.
  2. Imply that there are things the student could have done to prevent the incident.
  3. Convey negative judgment even when high-risk behavior such as intoxication is involved.
  4. Try to persuade the student to make a police report.
  5. Tell other staff members about the incident except for those who need to know.