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News
Sex without consent is a crime

Photo
Tony Daykin
By Tony Daykin
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Monday August 25, 2003

The UAPD is committed to working with the campus community to ensure a safe environment for students, staff, faculty and visitors. We believe in proactive involvement and expend significant resources providing educational presentations to students in many venues and addressing a variety of topics.

None of these topics is more important than the crime of sexual assault.

Although most students enjoy the opportunities to expand their social skills and enter healthy relationships while attending the university, there are unfortunately a significant number of students who cause harm to others or are harmed by others. Too many students an overwhelming majority of whom are female are victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse or relationship violence. A disproportionate number of these crimes occur during the initial weeks of each fall semester, as students are away from home and experimenting with new behaviors associated with that freedom for the first time in their lives.

Alcohol is a significant factor in these crimes, and it is estimated that the vast majority of campus sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol by the man, the woman or both (Abbey, 1996). Most students at the UA who do drink are light-to-moderate drinkers, and do not typically harm themselves or others as a result of their alcohol consumption. High-risk behaviors, including sex without consent, are generally associated with those students in the minority of heavy drinkers. It is very important to note that the legal definition of sexual assault addresses the fact that a person is not able to give consent if they are in an "impaired state," including an impaired state resulting from the use of alcohol.

We all have to actively work to stop these crimes from occurring. The UAPD will do its part by continuing its educational efforts and by vigorously investigating all reported incidents of sexual assault, sexual abuse and all other forms of relationship violence. All cases in which a suspect is identified will be investigated and presented to the Pima County Attorney's Office for prosecution.

It is a reality that despite all the efforts of the police department and the best avoidance techniques on the part of women only men can absolutely stop sexual assault. Men are identified as the offenders in 98 percent of all sexual assault cases. Men must understand that "no" means "no" and that unless explicit consent has been given, there is no consent. Without consent, any sexual contact is a criminal act.

Arizona Revised Statutes define Sexual Abuse, a Class 5 Felony, as "intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact with any person fifteen years or more years of age without consent of that person."

Sexual Assault, a Class 2 Felony, is defined as "intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without consent of such person."

"Without consent" includes situations in which the victim is coerced by the use or threat of force; is unable to give consent to the sexual act because of mental disorder, drugs, alcohol, sleep or any other similar impaired state (which is known or should have been known to the perpetrator); or is intentionally deceived as to the nature of the act.

Sexual assault and sexual abuse are crimes from which recovery is oftentimes very difficult. Victims of sex crimes often endure lifelong psychological and emotional consequences as a result of the violation. Members of our community who have experienced this type of victimization are strongly encouraged to contact the UA Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence, 626-2051, located in Old Main.

The Oasis Center provides comprehensive services including confidential reporting of incidents, advocacy, counseling and review of legal and medical options. Oasis can be contacted at the Web site http://w3.arizona.edu/~oasis/home.htm. Another important 24-hour community resource is the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, which offers crisis counseling and forensic medical examinations. SACASA can be reached at 327-7273. UAPD also offers 24-hour assistance and is available via 911 from anywhere on campus, or at 621-8273.

The consequences for offenders and alleged offenders are serious. Suspects must forever disclose arrests, and even if never arrested or prosecuted, they will be listed in police records as suspects. Those found guilty must forever disclose convictions and will be required to register as sex offenders. Those consequences are obviously far distant from the goals of male college students who would otherwise be focusing on the beginning of their adult lives, education and future career goals.

The powerful truth about these crimes is that they are preventable. Women on campus can reduce the possibility of becoming victims by supporting one another and by practicing the avoidance techniques suggested by UAPD and the Oasis Center. It is very clear, however, that in 98 percent of the cases, it is men who are the only ones who can make the decision to not be a sex offender. If there is the slightest doubt as to whether there is consent, stop! Don't take any chances with your future or with hers. Let us all share the goal of ensuring a safe environment for all of our students and for all of our community.

Anthony Daykin is the UAPD Chief of Police. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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