Legal Definitions

There are two major categories of sexual assault under Massachusetts General Law:

  • RAPE: Nonconsensual penetration into any orifice of another.  An orifice is described as a vagina, anus, or mouth.
  • INDECENT ASSAULT AND BATTERY: The intentional nonconsensual touching of another’s private areas.  Private areas are defined as the breast, vagina, buttocks, penis and/or genital area.

Full definitions of Massachusetts General Law available:

NU Code of Conduct

  1. Sexual Assault (level I)
    • With penetration, defined as the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by an inanimate
      object, penis, or other bodily part without Consent, as defined below.
    • Without penetration, defined as the unwanted touching of the intimate body parts of another (for example, breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, or the clothing covering them).
  2. Sexual Misconduct is any unwanted act that is intended in a sexual manner or any unwanted touching of a body part not usually considered intimate. Examples include, but are not limited to, providing a back massage to another person, exposing one’s genitals or other intimate body parts to a particular person or to the general public, repeated sexually charged verbal abuse related to one’s gender, repeated obscene phone calls or mail, or the viewing, filming, photographing and/or recording in any manner or by any means, transmitting and/or disseminating any recording of any type of sexual acts, partial or full nudity, inappropriate materials, sounds or images of another person without the knowledge and explicit permission of all parties involved.
    (level II)

CONSENT: Appropriate sexual behavior requires Consent from all parties involved.
Consent means a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity proposed by another and requires mutually understandable and communicated words and/or actions demonstrating agreement by both parties to participate in all sexual activities.

Consent may never be given by minors (in Massachusetts, those not yet 16 years of age), mentally disabled persons or those who are incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary) or those who are unconscious, unaware, or otherwise physically helpless. Physical force, threats, intimidating behavior, duress, or coercion cannot be used to gain Consent. A person who knows or should reasonably have known that another person is incapacitated may not engage in sexual activity with that person. Incapacitation is a state where one cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because they lack the ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why, or how of their sexual activities.
“Without consent” may be communicated by words and/or actions demonstrating unwillingness to engage in proposed sexual activity.

Additional clarifying notes for Consent
• Consent is mutually understandable when a reasonable person would consider the words and/or actions of the parties to have expressed a mutually understandable agreement between them to do the same thing, in the same way, at the same time, with one another;
• In the absence of mutually understandable words and/or actions, it is the responsibility of the initiator, or the person who wants to engage in the specific sexual activity, to make sure that he/she has Consent from his/her partner(s);
• Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly (as set forth by the Consent definition), and all sexual activity must cease;
• The person who is the object of sexual advances is not required to physically or otherwise resist;
• Silence, previous sexual relationships or experiences, and/or a current relationship may not, in themselves be taken to imply Consent;
• Use of alcohol or other drugs by the charged student does not mitigate a violation of the Inappropriate Sexual Behavior Policy;
• Coercion is pressure for unwanted sexual activity. When someone makes clear that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual activity, continued pressure beyond that point may be considered coercive.