Sexual Violence and Harassment

Sexual Violence and Harassment

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is prohibited under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).


Sexual assault: The state of Rhode Island defines sexual assault as sexual penetration or sexual contact by coercion or force or when the victim is incapacitated, helpless or under the age of consent.

The VAWA defines sexual assault as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs by force or without consent of the recipient of the unwanted sexual activity. Falling under the definition of sexual assault is sexual activity such as forced sexual intercourse, sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape as used in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. It includes sexual acts against people who are unable to consent either due to age or lack of capacity.

The UCR standard of the FBI defines rape as 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.

The FBI UCR also defines fondling, the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim; incest, sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law; and statutory rape, sexual intercourse with a person who is under the
statutory age of consent; as sexual offenses covered under sexual violence.

Consent: Consent is an informed agreement to participate in specific sexual acts. Consent is not achieved through manipulation, force or coercion of any kind. Consent requires the cognitive and emotional capacity to agree to sexual activity and, therefore, cannot be given in spite of any verbal declarations otherwise, by a person who is:

  • intoxicated or unconscious from drug or alcohol use
  • asleep or physically helpless
  • below the age of consent
  • temporarily or permanently incapacitated physically or psychologically
  • mentally impaired or disabled to the extent that they are incapable of appraising the nature of the act.

Past consent is not considered consent or permission and, therefore, consent must be given for each instance of sexual activity, regardless of relationship status. Consent may be withdrawn at any time, including during sexual activity.

Sexual activity, of any kind, without consent, is considered sexual assault.

The state of Rhode Island defines coercion or force as when the accused:

  • Uses, or threatens to use, a weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a weapon.
  • Overcomes the victim through the application of physical force or physical violence.
  • Coerces the victim to submit by threatening to use force or violence on the victim and the victim reasonably believes that the accused has the present ability to execute these threats.
  • Coerces the victim to submit by threatening to at some time in the future murder, inflict serious bodily injury upon or kidnap the victim or any other person and the victim reasonably believes that the accused has the ability to execute this threat.

Dating and Domestic Violence

The VAWA defines dating violence as violence committed by a person who is, or has been in, a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

The VAWA defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of action that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.

What to do in the Event of a Sexual Assault

In the event you are a victim of sexual assault, your first priority is to get to a place of safety and seek medical care. Seeking help from a hospital or trauma center ensures that a victim of sexual assault receives the necessary medical treatment and tests, at no expense. It also provides the opportunity for collection of evidence that could aid in prosecution (if chosen), that cannot be obtained later (Ideally a victim of sexual assault should not wash, douche, use the toilet or change clothing prior to a medical/legal exam.)

Once you have received appropriate medical care, you will want to seek advice on what to do next. You have multiple options available to you and you will be the person who makes the decisions.

Local, State or Campus Police

You can consult with a police officer trained in sexual trauma to access medical care or counseling and learn about your legal rights WITHOUT having to file a police report. If you choose to consult with Campus Police, we will notify local law enforcement should you choose to file a criminal complaint.

Community Resources

Community support services give victims access to free confidential counseling from counselors trained in the area of sexual assault crisis intervention. Off-campus services that are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week include:

Women’s Center (401-861-2760)
Day One (401-421-4100)

College Resources

The Community College strongly encourages a victim of sexual assault on campus or involving other members of the college community or at college events to report the incident in a timely manner. A college representative from Campus Police or Student Services will guide the victim through the available options and support the victim in his or her decision and allows the college to offer interim protective measures if appropriate to your situation. The victim of a sexual assault may choose to have the investigation pursued through the criminal justice system or the student disciplinary system. College action is limited and the college’s disciplinary system is no substitution for legal action, criminal or civil. The community college strongly encourages victims to choose to file a criminal complaint but will respect their decision to do so or not.

A sexual assault victim may choose to file a confidential complaint where his or her identity will remain undisclosed This will allow for the incident to be counted in campus crime statistics, but this severely limits the ability to investigate or pursue charges against the perpetrator.

Various on-campus support and counseling services are available for victims of sexual assault:

CCRI counseling services College nurse Campus Police
Warwick: 401-825-2301 401-825-2103 Warwick: 401-825-2109
Lincoln: 401-333-7160   Lincoln: 401-333-7035
Providence: 401-455-6063   Providence: 401-455-6050
Newport: 401-851-1625   Newport: 401-851-1620

Hours of operation for these services vary and should not be considered an emergency contact. Check the website for current hours of operation. The personnel in these offices can provide advice and counseling, detailed information on health issues and reporting procedures, or referrals to other resources. Campus Police offices are open 24 hours a day/7 days a week. - †MS Word document

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment, as defined under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It can include unwelcome verbal, nonverbal and physical conduct that ranges from sexual gestures or teasing to sexual assault, acts of sexual violence, including domestic and dating violence, stalking and coerced activity. Examples of sexual harassment:

  • Verbal sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to, sexual comments, jokes and innuendoes, whistles and cat calls, crude and offensive language, comments on physical attributes, use of demeaning or inappropriate terms, discussion of sexual activities, the posing of personal questions, the spreading of stories about someone’s social or sexual life, and propositions or pressure for social or sexual contact.
  • Nonverbal sexual harassment includes sexually explicit stares, gestures implying sexual activity, following someone or blocking their path, the display of sexually explicit or suggestive images, the secret recording of sexual acts or objects.
  • Physical sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to, unwanted touching, patting, grabbing, pinching, hugging, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and rape.
  • Peer sexual harassment is a form of prohibited sex discrimination where the harassing conduct creates a hostile environment when it is unwelcome and when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program or to create a hostile or abusive educational environment.
  • Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct (two or more acts) directed at a specific person what would cause a reasonable person to:
  1. Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others
  2. Suffer substantial emotional distress, even if said distress does not require medical treatment or counseling

The VAWA defines stalking as a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Sexual harassment need not be intentional. The intent of the person who is alleged to have committed such behavior is not relevant to determining whether a conduct code violation has occurred. The relevant determination is whether a reasonable person, in a similar situation, could have interpreted the alleged behavior to be sexual harassment.

Conduct of behavior may be considered sexual harassment when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of a student’s education, employment, academic assessment or progress, or full participation in college services or programs.
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for decisions affecting a student’s education, employment, academic assessment or progress, or full participation in college services or programs.
  3. Such conduct has the purpose of effect of unreasonably interfering with a student’s education, employment, academic assessment or progress, or full participation in college services or programs.

Acts that do not necessarily involve conduct of a sexual nature, but are based on sex or gender-stereotyping and which may include physical aggression, intimidation or hostility, voyeurism, and hazing are considered gender-based harassment and are prohibited.

These definitions will be interpreted and applied by the college consistent with reasonable standards for mature behavior, academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Filing a Complaint

If a student feels that he or she is being harassed in the above manner by another student, the student should notify Michael Cunningham, dean of students immediately. Complaints against a faculty or staff member should be directed to Lela Morgan, interim director of Affirmative Action. Mrs. Morgan also serves as the college’s coordinator under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Ms. Sheri Norton, director of Human Resources, serves as the college’s Title IX coordinator.

Students should not assume that the college is aware of their problem. It is a student’s responsibility to bring his or her complaints and concerns to the college’s attention so that officials can help resolve them. Students’ complaints will be kept as confidential as possible, but an anonymous report may severely limit the ability to investigate or pursue charges against the perpetrator. Students will not be penalized in any way for reporting such conduct.

Interim Measures

When students file a complaint in any of the above situations, the college may implement interim precautionary measures to ensure their safety and wellbeing after an assault or incident while an investigation and/or conduct hearing is pending. These measures include campus-based ‘no contact’ orders, an alteration of their course schedule or escort services from Campus Police.

What to do If You have been Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Allegations of sexual assault or harassment are extremely serious and the college is legally and morally required to handle such accusations with speed and an abundance of caution. The college will not presume that you have violated the Student Conduct Code or any state or federal law. However, the college may act preventively for the well-being of the accusing student or the broader community if sufficient preliminary evidence exists of a potential danger or threat.

If you are accused of sexual misconduct, a Title IX investigation will be conducted by a trained member of the Title IX compliance group. You will be notified about the accusation and you will be given an opportunity to respond to the accusation. You may provide names of witnesses or other references to the investigator for inclusion in the process or submit written documentation as may the complainant. At the conclusion of the investigation, a summary of the findings of the investigator will be sent to the complainant and the respondent simultaneously. The full report will be forwarded to the dean of students for possible disciplinary action if
warranted. Please see page 12 for details on how disciplinary complaints are handled for the remainder of this process.

If you are arrested for sexual misconduct through local law enforcement action that is unrelated to the community college, the college reserves the right to act preventively for the well-being of the broader community, up to and including interim suspension. However, no formal disciplinary action will be taken until the legal process has been concluded in accordance with the college’s
policy on off-campus affairs.

Sex Offender Registry

The Federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act requires institutions of higher education to issue a statement advising the campus community where law enforcement agency information is provided by the state concerning registered sex offenders and where it may be obtained. It also requires sex offenders to register with the state and to provide notice, as required under state
law, to each institution of higher education in that state at which the person is employed, carries on a vocation or is a student.

In Rhode Island, convicted sex offenders must register with the local police department in their municipality AS WELL as the local police department in the town or city in which they take classes. Every person convicted on or after July 1, 1997, including juveniles sentenced as adults of an offense for which registration is required, as part of the sentence imposed upon conviction, to register and reregister with the local police agencies.

In addition, all persons convicted of violations under United States law or any other state law substantially similar to an offense for which registration is required shall provide to the local agency all necessary information within 10 days of establishing a residence and reregistering within ten 10 days of any change.

The Community College of Rhode Island requires that sexual offenders register as such with Campus Police before the first day of every semester in which they will be enrolled. Failure to comply with any part of this policy will result in administrative withdrawal from all registered courses and possible disciplinary action. Offenders may be restricted from registering for courses in certain locations or at certain times depending on the type of activities that may occur in said place or at said time.

To obtain information on sex offenders

Any person wanting information on registered sex offenders or related information should contact the local municipal police agency with jurisdiction for the location of our campuses. The State of Rhode Island Parole Board maintains the following website:

Last Updated: 2/19/18