Sexual assault is a crime punishable by both civil and criminal legal action. The University Judicial System administered through the Office of Judicial Affairs adjudicates, at the request of the victim, all cases involving sex offenses in which the alleged perpetrator is a University of Mary Washington Student. UMW also encourages victims to prosecute alleged perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. There are several avenues for assistance if a person becomes the victim of a sex offense.
Victims of sexual assault tend to feel a variety of conflicting emotions: rage, fear, depression, relief to have survived, numbness and exhaustion, to name just a few. Two vital points to remember are that the assault was not your fault and there is help available.
The University Police Department complements the work of the Fredericksburg Commonwealth Attorney’s Office Victim/Witness Assistance Director by aggressively training every officer in protecting the rights of victims and witnesses of crimes. Referral information is accessible at all times regarding area services available for general counseling, medical attention, emergency housing or financial assistance. Responsiveness to the needs of crime victims is a police department priority.
IF A SEXUAL ASSAULT HAPPENS TO YOU:
- Go to a safe location.
- Contact the police for immediate assistance and information. University Police may investigate the offense or, at the victim’s request, assist in notifying the local law enforcement agency. At the Fredericksburg campus, this would be the Fredericksburg Police Department. At the Dahlgren campus, this would be the King George County Sheriff’s Office. At the Stafford campus, this would be the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
20 U.S.C. § 1092
(8)(A) Each institution of higher education participating in any
program under this subchapter and part C of subchapter I of chapter
34 of title 42 shall develop and distribute as part of the report
described in paragraph (1) a statement of policy regarding -
(v) Informing students of their options to notify proper law
enforcement authorities, including on-campus and local police,
and the option to be assisted by campus authorities in notifying
such authorities, if the student so chooses.
- If possible, do not change your clothes, shower, or eat or drink between the rape and the trip to the emergency room. Bring a change of clothes with you because the police will need the clothes you were wearing for evidence.
- Go the Mary Washington Hospital Emergency Room. A qualified physician or nurse will examine you for injuries and collect physical evidence that could be used in criminal proceedings if you decide to prosecute. Mary Washington Hospital’s nurses have been trained and certified by the Virginia Division of Forensic Science with administering the “SANE” – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Program that aids the victim with this process.
- Having a physical exam does not mean that law enforcement must be notified, or the offender prosecuted.
- The physical exam is provided at no cost to you. The Commonwealth of Virginia pays for the forensic exam.
- Even if you do not wish to prosecute, it is important that you have a physical exam after the attack. Besides bruises or other physical injuries, the perpetrator might have passed on a sexually transmitted disease that requires treatment. An HIV/AIDS test may also ease your mind, although six months must elapse after an attack to accurately detect the presence of HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.
- The hospital will notify the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault “RCASA”, who will supply you with a trained companion at the hospital.
- Seek counseling from the University of Mary Washington’s Psychological Services Center 540-654-1053.
As mentioned above, victims of very recent assaults should go the emergency room of Mary Washington Hospital, located on Mary Washington Hospital Blvd. off of Rt.1 (Jeff Davis Hwy) in the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The victim should receive a physical exam and the collection of evidence. All victims, past or present, should be seen by a qualified physician or nurse to check for sexually transmitted diseases, physical trauma, and possible pregnancy. Female victims may prefer to see a female physician, and should request one if that will increase their comfort, though in the emergency room that may not always be possible.
UMW Students can receive some of the above services at the University’s Health Center (654-1040) under the care of the University’s physician during normal business hours. However, the Health Center can not collect evidence and will refer victims to the Mary Washington Hospital Emergency Room. Even if no symptoms are apparent, victims are still strongly encouraged to seek medical attention.
Students coping with a sexual assault have counseling services that are FREE of charge and are CONFIDENTIAL (540-654-1053) that are on-campus at the University’s Psychological Services Center that are staffed with licensed professionals.
Many other options exist which have some cost associated with them, such as private therapists. Counseling is often crucial to the recovery process, and victims should be encouraged to seek the assistance of qualified professionals, even if many years have elapsed since the assault. As always, the choice to seek counseling should be the victim’s.
Legal and Judicial Options
Sexual assault victims have three judicial options from which to choose: filing criminal charges, filing campus judicial charges, and filing a civil suit for monetary damages. Victims are not limited to just one of these options, but can choose any combination including filing all three types of charges. Below is a brief description of each type of judicial process.
- Criminal Charge
Filing criminal charges means going to the police. If the assault happened on campus, it falls under the jurisdiction of the UMW Police (540-654-1025). If it happened off-campus, but still in the City of Fredericksburg, it falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Fredericksburg Police (540-654-5730). If the assault occurred at the Dahlgren campus then the King George County Sheriff’s Office should be notified (540) 775-2049.) If the assault occurred in Stafford county, then the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office should be notified (540-658-4450.) If the assault occurred in another locality, then the local law enforcement agency should be contacted.
Criminal charges are prosecuted by the Commonwealth Attorney, not the individual victim. The prosecuting attorney for the Commonwealth will argue the case in the court at no cost to the victim. The victim serves at the primary witness to the crime and his or her testimony is crucial to the case. Criminal cases may take considerable time to proceed through the criminal justice system. Typically, the identity of the victim is protected by the press, although the identity of the accused perpetrator is not.
- University Judicial Charge
Campus judicial charges can only be filed if the alleged offender is a University of Mary Washington student. The referral agent is typically a member of the UMW community as well. The campus judicial system examines violations of University policy. Campus judicial hearings do not replace or substitute for criminal prosecutions, and students who choose campus judicial hearings are also encouraged to seek redress through the criminal justice system and civil court. The Dean of Student Life or designee (540-654-1062) will provide information to the victim about options for pursuing a charge against the assailant through the University judicial process.
The student will be asked to relate the incident in writing to the Dean of Student Life. The student will also relate the incident verbally, with a friend present if the student wishes. The Dean will then initiate the Student Conduct Hearing Board process. This procedure is detailed in the Student Handbook. The Student Conduct Board is trained annually regarding the appropriate handling of sexual assault cases.
Both the accuser and accused have the same opportunity to have others present (in support or advisory roles) during campus disciplinary hearings.
Both parties have the right to be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary hearing involving sexual assault, non-forcible sexual assault, or a crime of violence. In the event of the death of the victim, the notification of the outcome is transferred to the next-of-kin.
Students shall be informed of their options to notify proper law enforcement authorities; including University and local police, and the option to be assisted by campus authorities in notifying such authorities, if the student so chooses;
Survivors shall be notified of available counseling, mental health or student services for victims of sexual assault, both on campus and in the community; and
Notification to students of and options for, and available assistance in, changing academic and living situations after an alleged sexual assault incident, if so requested by the victim and if such changes are reasonably available.
SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATION OF THE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY
· Any student found responsible violating the policy on Non‐Consensual Sexual Contact will likely receive a sanction ranging from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous violations of UMW’s Code of Conduct.
· Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non‐Consensual Sexual Intercourse will likely face a recommended sanction of suspension or expulsion.
· Any student found responsible for violating the policy on sexual exploitation or sexual harassment will likely receive a recommended sanction ranging from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous violations of UMW’s Code of Conduct.
The hearing board or administrator reserves the right to broaden or lessen any range of recommended sanctions in the complaint of serious mitigating circumstances or egregiously offensive behavior. Neither the initial hearing board or administrator, nor any appeal board or administrator, will deviate from the range of recommended sanctions unless compelling justification exists to do so.
- Civil Court
Sexual assault victims have the right to sue the perpetrator or other involved parties for monetary damages. This type of legal proceeding, which may be pursued alone or in conjunction with criminal and/or campus judicial charges, does require an attorney. As with campus judicial action, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. Victims considering this type of prosecution are advised to consult a private attorney for information.
Sexual assault victims who are reluctant to contact the police directly may file a “Third Party Sexual Assault” report via a third person to the UMW Police Department. These reports are not counted as actual crime offenses unless they have been fully investigated by the police. These reports are utilized as a method to provide the victim medical and psychological assistance and statistically show areas which may need additional educational programming.
IMPORTANT TELEPHONE NUMBERS
This section has attempted to offer an overview of sexual assault issues, and the available options on the campus of University of Mary Washington. No one publication can be entirely comprehensive. Sexual assault is a complex issue; no two cases will have exactly the same results or the same course of action. The University therefore offers a variety of services so that victims can get the assistance they most need. For further explanation or elaboration of the information in this section, contact the agencies whose numbers are listed here.
|UMW Counseling and Psychological Services Center||(540) 654-1053|
|Sexual Harassment, UMW Office of Human Resources||(540) 654-1046|
|UMW Health Center||(540) 654-1040|
|UMW Police (non emergency – business)||(540) 654-1025|
|Off- Campus Resources:
|Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault||(540) 371-1666|
|Fredericksburg Area Victim/Witness Assistance Program||(540) 372-1038|
|Fredericksburg Area Rape Hotline (24 hours)||(540) 371-1212|
|Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence||(540) 373-9373|
|Woman’s Counseling and Psychotherapy Referral Service||(800) 344-4090|
|Fredericksburg Police Department||(540) 373-3122|
|Fredericksburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office||(540) 372-1040|
|King George County Sheriff’s Office||(540) 775-2049|
|King George County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office||(540) 775-4442|
|Stafford County Sheriff’s Office||(540) 658-4450|
|Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office||(540) 658-8780|