Sexual Misconduct Definitions

Definitions of Roles

Case Western Reserve University uses specific, impartial language throughout our process. The terms below refer to individuals who are most often involved in investigations of sexual misconduct.

Reporting Party

Individual(s) who brings forward initial report.

Responding Party

Individual(s) who responds to the initial report.


Individual(s) who may have information pertinent to the report, may have directly seen behavior, or have been in contact or proximity with Reporting Party or Responding Party around the time of the behavior.

Designated Reporting Representative

The Designated Reporting Representative (DRR) is responsible for coordinating and assisting individuals through the initial inquiry, which may include interviews with the Reporting Party and Responding party and review relevant documents. Designated Reporting Representatives are trained in intake procedures around Title IX.

See who is a Designated Reporting Representative.

Definitions of Misconduct Terms

The following misconduct is covered by Case Western Reserve University Sexual Misconduct Policy:

Sexual Harassment

Any unwelcome verbal or nonverbal sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature and/or conduct directed at an individual(s) because of gender when:

1) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or student status: or

2) Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for decisions affecting that individual with regard to employment (raises, job, work assignments, discipline, etc.) or to student status (grades, references, assignments, etc.); or

3) Such conduct has the purpose of effect of unreasonably and objectively interfering with an individual's work performance or educational experience or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work and/or educational environment. Such conduct generally invovles more than one incident and must be severy, persistent or pervasive (or may be severey, persistent and pervasive). Depending on the nature of the incident, more than one action or incident is typically necessary to constitue this form of sexual harassment.

Acts that constitute sexual harassment take a variety of forms and may include but are not limited to the following unwelcome actions:

a) Propositions, invitations, solicitations, and flirtations of a sexual nature.

b) Threats or insinuations that a person's employment, wages, academic grade, promotional opportunities, classroom or work assignments, or other conditions of employment or academic life may be adversely affected by not submitting to sexual advances.

c) Verbal expressions of a sexual nature, including sexual communications about a person's body, dress, apperance or sexual activities; the use of sexually degrading language, name calling, sexual suggestive jokes, or innuendoes; suggestive or insulting gestures, sounds, or whistles; sexually suggestive phone call.

d) Sexually suggestive objects or written materials, such as social media, email or internet communications, pictures, photographs, cartoons, test messages, viedos, or DVD's.

e) Inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact such as touching, patting, pinching, hugging, or other sexually suggestive contact.

f) Stalking or a sexual nature (i.e. persistent and wanted contact off any form whether physical, electronic or by any other means). For stalking to fall within this policy, the content or the nature of the stalking must have a sexual component.

g) Stereotyping or generalizing about a group based on gender. These types of comments typically constitute sexual harassment when associated with other sexual behavior or comments.

Sexual Exploitation

Occurs when an individual takes non-consensual, unjust 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 the other sexual misconduct offenses.

Non-consensual Sexual Contact or Activity

Contact that involves all of the following:

  • Any intentional sexual contact or sexual activity:
  • With any object or body part;
  • By a person upon another person; and
  • Without consent

Forced Sexual Contact or Activity

Contact that involves all of the following:

  • Any intentional sexual contact or sexual activity:
  • By force or against the will of the individual.
    • Force includes: the use of physical means, violence, threats, intimidation or coercion;
  • With any object or body part; and
  • By a person upon another person.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse

Intercourse that involves all of the following:

  • Any sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal);
  • With any object or body part;
  • By a person upon a person; and
  • Without consent.

Forced Sexual Intercourse

Intercourse that involves all of the following:

  • Sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal);
  • With any object or body part;
  • By a person upon another person; and
  • By the use of force, including physical force, threat, intimidation or coercion

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence, defined as violence or abuse between those in a close romantic, or intimate relationship to each other. Intimate Partner Violence can consist of intimidation, harassment , physical abuse, sexual abuse, or interference with personal liberty of any person by someone in an intimate relationship, as decribed below.

These actions may include, but not limited to:

  • Physical abuse: hitting, slapping shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, or hair pulling.
  • Sexual abuse:  attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physicial violence, treating on in a sexually demeaning manner, coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent
  • Psychological or emotional abuse: pattern of behavior undermining an individual's sense of self-worth or self-esteem, constant criticism, diminising one's abilities, name calling

Close, romantic, or intimate partner relationships include:

  • Persons who have or have had a dating relationship
  • Persons who have or have had a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature


Stalking can be in two different forms:

  • Stalking 1: A course of conduct:
    • Directed at a specific person;
    • On the basis of actual or perceived membership in a protected class;
    • That is unwelcome; and
    • Would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
  • Stalking 2:
    • Repetitive and menacing behavior; or
    • Pursuit, following, harassing and/or interfering with the peace and/or safety of another.

Additional Applicable Definitions


Consent is the equal approval, given freely, willingly and knowingly, of each participant to desired sexual involvement. Consent is an affirmative, conscious decision—indicated clearly by words or actions—to engage in mutually accepted sexual contact. A person forced to engage in sexual contact by force, threat of force, or coercion has not consented to contact. Lack of mutual consent is the crucial factor in any sexual misconduct matter. Consent to some form of sexual activity does not necessarily constitute consent to another form of sexual activity.


Incapacitation is a state in which someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because the person lacks the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction). Examples include, but are not limited to, being:

  • Unconscious;
  • Asleep;
  • Frightened;
  • Physically or psychologically pressured or forced;
  • Intimidated;
  • Incapacitated because of a psychological or intellectual health condition or disability;
  • Incapacitated because of voluntary intoxication due to use of drugs or alcohol; or
  • Incapacitated because of the deceptive administering of any drug, intoxicant or controlled substance.


Reporting Parties have the right to request confidentiality of a report of sexual misconduct. The responsibility of the Designated Reporting Representative(s) is to weigh requests for confidentiality against the need to investigate and protect the university community. If the Designated Reporting Representative cannot grant a complainant’s request to maintain confidentiality of the report and/or the complainant’s identity, the Designated Reporting Representative will discuss with the reporting party this determination and what information will be disclosed and to whom it will be disclosed as necessary to conduct an investigation or take appropriate action.

In order to protect the integrity of the inquiry, investigation and resolution through the use of this policy, all parties and witnesses are expected to maintain the confidentiality of the process.


Retaliation is prohibited and will constitute separate grounds for disciplinary action. Retaliation is the act of taking adverse action against a reporting party, a responding party, or any other person involved in the process under this policy based on the person’s reporting or participation in the process under this policy. Although independent action will be taken against anyone engaging in retaliation, the reporting party and the responding party are responsible for discouraging such actions and will also be held responsible to the extent of their involvement in the retaliation. An individual who believes they have experienced retaliation should contact the Office of Title IX or a Designated Reporting Representative under this policy, and the university will investigate the report.