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Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy


Sexual assault is a serious violent crime. It is a crime of hostility and aggression, as well as a violation of human dignity. Sexual assault is also a very sensitive crime which is unique in its physical and mental impact upon the alleged victim. When it occurs at Bellarmine University, it is also a flagrant violation of University standards and will not be tolerated.

The Bellarmine University community expects its members to treat other persons with respect and dignity and will not tolerate any form of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Sexual activity should be explicitly agreed upon by both parties. The same holds whether the assailant is a stranger or an acquaintance. The use of alcohol or drugs will not be accepted as an explanation for the actions of any person charged with the violation of this policy. In addition, the use of alcohol or other mind-altering substances by either party does not have to be known by both parties for the offense to be considered sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Wanton, unacceptable conduct will be addressed severely for the good of the students and the academic community.

Students who violate this policy will be disciplined under the University’s Code of Conduct and may be prosecuted under Kentucky’s criminal statutes. Whether or not a criminal prosecution occurs, Bellarmine retains the right to proceed with disciplinary action at any time, and the University need not await the dispensation of any such criminal prosecution. Appropriate disciplinary action may include counseling, educational sanctions, disciplinary probation, suspension,expulsion, and referral to the proper law enforcement authorities for prosecution. This policy applies to student on student allegations only.


The following definitions are offered to inform the Bellarmine University community of the various types of sex offenses that occur most frequently on college campuses. If the institution reasonably should know about student-on-student harassment that creates a hostile environment, immediate action will be taken to eliminate the harassment, prevent recurrence, and address effects, even if the harassment occurred off campus or is reported by a third party.

Sexual misconduct offenses include, but are not limited to:

1. Sexual Harassment
2. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact (or attempts to commit same)
3. Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempts to commit same)
4. Sexual Exploitation
5. Retaliation in connection with any of these offenses

1. Sexual Harassment is:

  • Unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is,
  • Sufficiently sever, persistent or pervasive that it,
  • Has the effect of unreasonable interference with, denying or limiting someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program and/or activities and is
  • Based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment,
  • or Retaliation.

Examples include: an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to egregious, unwelcome sexual attention; to punish a refusal to comply with a sexually based request; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence; intimate partner violence; stalking; gender-based bullying.

2. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is

  • Any intentional sexual touching,
  • However slight,
  • With any object,
  • By a man or a woman upon a man or a woman,
  • That is without consent and /or by force.

Sexual Contact includes: intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts; any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner, though not involving contact with/of/by breasts, groin, genitals, mouth or other orifice.

3. Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is

  • Any sexual intercourse
  • However slight,
  • With any object,
  • By a man or woman upon a man or a woman,
  • That is without consent and/or by force.

Intercourse includes: vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger, anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

4. Sexual Exploitation: Occurs when a student takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Invasion of sexual privacy;
  • Prostituting another student;
  • Non-consensual video or audio taping of sexual activity;
  • Going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends hidein the closet to watch you having consensual sex);
  • Engaging in voyeurism;
  • Knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV to another student;
  • Exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances; inducing another to expose their genitals;
  • Sexually-based stalking and/or bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation

5. Retaliation: Retaliation is any adverse action against a student who reports discrimination or sexual misconduct, files a complaint, assists someone in reporting or filing a complaint, participates in an investigation or hearing of a complaint, or protests what he or she considers to be discrimination or sexual misconduct under this Policy, where the intent of the action is to intimidate, coerce or otherwise deter the student from exercising his or her rights under this Policy. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, verbal threats, physical abuse or different treatment because of the student’s exercise of his or her rights.

6. Consent: Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. The responsibility to obtain consent rests with the initiator of the activity. Consent is defined as informed, freely and actively given, mutually understandable words or actions. A person has the right at any time to say “no” to sexual activity and that “no” means “no.” Verbal communications of nonconsent, nonverbal acts of resistance or rejection, or mental incapacitation of the alleged victim due to any cause including the alleged victim’s use of alcohol or drugs constitute a lack of consent. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.

  • Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity
  • Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.

7. Force: Force is the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent (“Have sex with me or I’ll hit you. Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.”).

  • Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When someone makes clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.
  • NOTE: There is no requirement that a party resists the sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.
  • In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age.
  • Sexual activity with someone whom one should know to be or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be – mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout), constitutes a violation of this policy.
  • Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction.).
  • This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the taking of drugs of any kind. Possession, use and/or distribution of any of any of these substances, including, but not limited to, Rohypnol, Ketomine, GHB, Burundanga, etc. is prohibited, and administering one of these drugs to another student is a violation of this policy. More information on these drugs can be found at
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs will never function as a defense to a violation of this policy.
  • The sexual orientation and/or gender identity of individuals engaging in sexual activity is not relevant to allegations under this policy.

Reporting Procedure for Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Cases

If a student assault occurs, it should be reported to the Office of Public Safety, the Dean of Students, Residence Life, Health Services, or the Counseling Center. If a faculty or staff assault occurs, it should be reported to the Office of Public Safety or Human Resources. Students may make confidential reports to Health Services or the Counseling Center.  Privacy will be maintained unless another student is involved or a potential risk of harm to self or others exists; reports to Health Services or the Counseling Center will be kept confidential, to the extent possible. Information will be shared only with relevant medical and/or therapeutic personnel until such time that a decision is made or temporary, indirect, or direct action taken. Assaults that occur by an assailant not affiliated with the University and/or off-campus should be reported to local police (911). If law enforcement officials are notified first, it is still recommended to contact a campus resource person so that appropriate measures can be taken and support provided.

When an alleged sexual assault is reported, campus resource persons will notify the complainant of the range of resources and alternatives available to him/her both on campus and in the Louisville community. The discussion should include encouraging the complainant to report the incident to law enforcement authorities.

The University can help arrange a meeting with law enforcement authorities and will accompany and support the alleged victim during the meetings. In instances where reports of sexual discrimination or misconduct are found to be falsely made, the complainant may be charged with a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, specifically, providing false information to University Officials.

Informal Action

  • Immediate medical attention (U of L Hospital has the most comprehensive rape response unit). Refer to subsection on Medical Attention.
  • Referral to free, trained therapists.
  • Access to legal advocacy.
  • Access to printed information to enable informed decisions regarding crime and assistance, and criminal and disciplinary proceedings.
  • No mediation will be used to resolve sexual assault complaints.

Formal Procedures

The complainant is encouraged to file a formal report, not only in order to deter such assaults from happening to others, but also to receive services that enhance recovery. Once an informal or formal report has been made, a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation by the University will occur. Law enforcement investigations do not relieve the school from the need to conduct an investigation. The University will inform and obtain consent from the complainant before beginning an investigation. If the complainant requests confidentiality or asks that the complaint not be pursued, the University will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint, consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation. If a complainant insists that his or her name or other identifiable information not be disclosed to the respondent, the University will have limited ability to respond to the complaint, but will pursue other steps to limit the effects of the alleged offense and prevent its recurrence. If the complainant continues to ask that identifiable information not be revealed, the University will evaluate that request in the context of its responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students. Bellarmine will inform the complainant if it cannot ensure confidentiality. The complainant has the option to participate in conduct procedures without being physically present through written statement, phone conference, or other means.

A student who has been sexually assaulted may pursue a complete professional investigation before making a decision about how to proceed with the case. The pendency of criminal proceedings shall not be ground for appeal of any findings or sanctions based on the respondent’s failure to attend or speak at the hearing. The complainant always has the right to contact LMPD at any point. Not all incidents of sexual assault result in criminal proceedings. In some cases, the complainant chooses not to press criminal charges. In other cases the prosecutor may decide that there is insufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Whether or not criminal proceedings are initiated, campus conduct proceedings will be started when the information warrants. The University will request the presence of any witnesses identified by the complainant or respondent. Please see the Student Conduct Procedures section of this handbook for additional information. This will be discussed with the student. The University will request the presence of any witnesses identified by the complainant or respondent to provide statements during conduct procedures. A complainant’s identity will be kept confidential as much as possible and only released on a need to know basis.

Rights of Complainant and Respondent

Rights of Complainant

The complainant’s rights include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  1. The right to end the informal process at any time and begin the formal stage of the complaint process.
  2. The right to confer with an advocate of not more than one person to be chosen by the complainant from the Bellarmine University campus community (student, faculty, or staff member) to help prepare information to present at the hearing. This advocate may be present at the hearing, but only to answer questions that the complainant may have during the course of the proceedings. The advocate may not speak at the hearing unless specifically requested to do so by the chairperson of the hearing panel.
  3. The right to make his or her statement without being in the presence of the respondent in the hearing.
  4. The right to make an “Impact Statement,” which is an oral statement that describes the effect that the incident has had on the complainant emotionally or physically.
  5. The right to call witnesses (other than character witnesses) to testify at the hearing. However, the hearing panel may establish a reasonable limit to the number of witnesses.
  6. The right to have witnesses (other than character witnesses) submit written statements.
  7. The right to withdraw a complaint at any time prior to the imposition of sanctions.
  8. The right to appeal the decision to the Vice President for Student Affairs, as set forth in this policy.
  9. The right to file a complaint with law enforcement at any point.

Rights of Respondent

The rights of the respondent include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  1. The right to confer with an advocate of not more than one person to be chosen by the respondent from the Bellarmine University campus community (student, faculty, or staff member) to help prepare information to present at the hearing. This advocate may be present at the hearing, but only to answer questions that the respondent might have during the course of the proceedings. The advocate may not speak at the hearing unless specifically requested to do so by the chairperson to the Hearing Panel.
  2. The right to make his or her statement without being in the presence of the complainant in the hearing.
  3. The right to be informed of the charges in writing, the time and place of the offense, and his or her complainant.
  4. The right to call witnesses (other than character witnesses) to testify at the hearing. However, the hearing panel may establish a reasonable limit to the number of witnesses.
  5. The right to have witnesses (other than character witnesses) submit written statements.
  6. The right to appeal the decision to the Vice President for Student Affairs, as set forth in this policy.

Student Conduct Procedures

Refer to the Community Standards and Obligations section of the Student Handbook or click here for a complete outline of the student conduct procedures. Both the complainant and the respondent shall be informed of the outcome of any campus student conduct proceeding alleging a sex offense. However, in accordance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the alleged complainant must be informed that the information provided may not be shared with any other person without the assailant’s signed written consent.

Prevention of Recurrence & Retaliation

The University owes a duty to care for the students within its charge and, for this reason, must make every effort to ensure the safety and well-being of all students. The University prohibits retaliation of any sort. Any act of retaliation including, but not limited to, harassment, abuse, threat, or intimidation toward the complainant, the respondent, or any witness who makes a report is forbidden. Such behavior should be reported to the Office of Public Safety, the Dean of Students, or local law enforcement. The Dean of Students’ Office or a designee shall be responsible for contacting complainants to determine if retaliation has occurred.

  • Interim Protective Orders - When a report has been filed and both parties have been informed of the charges, the University may remove the alleged respondent from his or her living arrangement, pending the hearing. Alleged complainants may also request a campus escort.In addition, the Dean of Students or his/her designee may issue an interim“no contact” order to help ensure that the alleged complainant is not harassed by the alleged respondent. All forms of contact between the alleged victim and respondent will be prohibited. Harassment by either party or their acquaintances will also be prohibited. Such interim measures will be in effect through the end of the student conduct hearing process, and may be extended after the hearing.
  • Living Arrangements - When the alleged complainant and the alleged respondent in a sexual assault case live in campus housing, alternative living arrangements for the respondent and/or the alleged complainant may be made when reasonably available and if so requested by the alleged complainant. Unless otherwise requested by the complainant, the alleged respondent will, most likely, be the one to move as the alleged complainant can be further victimized by having to move.
  • Academic Considerations - Should the alleged complainant and alleged respondent be enrolled in the same class, alternative class assignments may be made when reasonably available, and if requested by the alleged complainant.

Recommended Action

The purpose of this material is to provide information and assistance to alleged complainants of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, and persons who may come in contact with an alleged complainant. The University encourages reporting all incidents of assault to Security. On-campus sexual assault or sexual misconduct should also be reported as quickly as possible to a campus resource person.

Campus Resources

  • Lynn Bynum, Title IX Coordinator/Chief Human Resource Officer: 502.272.8236,, Horrigan 213-C
  • Melanie Brunsdon, Asst. AD for Compliance: 502.272.8408,
  • Elizabeth Cassady, Asst. Dean of Students: 502.272.8150,
  • Dr. Hannah Clayborne, Asst. Vice President - Student Affairs: 502.272.8070,
  • Dr. Jay Gatrell, AVP, Institutional Effectiveness, Research & Graduate Initiative: 502.272.8259,
  • Joan Hughes, Benefits Manager - HR: 502.272.8435,
  • Jim Vargo, Director of Track/Cross Country: 502.272.8042,
  • Office of Public Safety: 502.272.7777
  • Vice President for Student Affairs: 502.272.8304
  • Dean of Students: 502.272.8150
  • Counseling Center: 502.272.8480
  • Health Services: 502.272.8493
  • Director of Residence Life: 502.272.3000
  • Anniversary Hall: 502.899.8607
  • Petrik Hall: 502.899.8601
  • Kennedy/Newman Halls: 502.899.8600
  • Siena Complex: 502.272.3500
  • BU Properties (1816 Norris): 502.899.8606

The best off-campus resource is The Center for Women and Families, 1.877.803.7577 (24 hour Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Line 581.7222). There an individual can receive counseling and/or be directed to a safe place if the individual feels they are in danger of further harm.

Making decisions and regaining control are important to the healing process after an offense. The choice of how to proceed after the assault belongs largely with the alleged complainant. The following are a number of factors to consider.

  • Emotional Trauma is severe after a sexual assault. The violation, loss of trust, and loss of control can have a serious long-term impact. It is not unusual for a person to withdraw, feel guilty or distrustful. However, there are many people who understand and places where support is available while one is recovering.The University Counseling Center is the best on-campus resource for students.
  • Medical Attention is critical. Even if the alleged complainant ultimately decides not to report the assault, it is still very important to seek immediate medical attention for possible internal injuries or sexually transmitted diseases. Also, the collection of medical evidence becomes critical in the event of prosecution. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention promptly and to refrain from:
    1. Taking a shower or washing any part of the body;
    2. Douching;
    3. Brushing teeth;
    4. Drinking liquids;
    5. Changing clothes or changing sheets before seeking medical help; and
    6. Putting anything in the mouth (gum, cigarettes, mints)

A particularly well-equipped emergency room with a Sexual Assault Response Team is located at University of Louisville Hospital. At the Emergency Room, the doctor will collect hair samples, semen samples,and other evidence, including clothing. A alleged victim should bring a change of clothing to wear home. The police will be contacted to take possession of the samples until the victim makes a decision about whether or not to press charges.

University of Louisville Hospital, 530 S. Jackson St. Louisville, KY 40202
Directions: Turn right onto Newburg Rd./KY 1703 and continue to follow northwest 1.6 miles. KY 1703 becomes Baxter Ave. Turn left onto E. Broadway and follow for 1 mile. Turn right onto S. Jackson St. and end at 530 S. Jackson St.

  • Counseling is a very important step in helping someone who has been sexually assaulted regain control of his/her life. Sexual assault is an extremely traumatic experience that needs professional attention. The University urges students involved in a sexual assault to meet with a counselor. Among other things, counselors can help alleged victims decide what further steps may be taken following an assault. The best resources are the Center for Women and Families and the University Counseling Center.

Note to Friends, Faculty, and Staff

If someone who has been sexually assaulted comes to you, encourage the person to report the incident, seek medical attention, and pursue counseling. If the alleged victim will not report the offense, anyone with knowledge of the assault may inform the Dean of Students and/or the  University Counseling Center that a sexual assault has occurred.

Campus Statistics

In compliance with the Campus Security Act and the Higher Education Amendments of 1998,  Bellarmine University annually publishes statistics on campus crimes, including reported sex offenses. These statistics are located in the back of the Student Handbook.

Educational Programs

To foster awareness of sex offenses, unhealthy relationships, and alleged victims’ options, and to promote responsible behavior, Bellarmine University offers educational sessions through the S.O.S. program (Support Our Students), which is comprised of representative from the following areas: Office of Public Safety, Health Services, Counseling Services, Campus Ministries, the Dean of Students Office, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. These programs are offered to Bellarmine University student, faculty, and staff on an ongoing basis. Additional programs are offered specifically to residential students.

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