Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

According to Pennsylvania law:

Rape (a first-degree felony) is sexual intercourse obtained:

  • Through "forcible compulsion"
  • Through threat of "forcible compulsion"
  • When a person is unconscious or unaware that intercourse is occurring even though conscious
  • When a mental disability renders a person incapable of consent
  • When a person is less than 13 years of age even though consent is given
  • When the offender gets his victim drunk or high for the purpose of preventing resistance without the knowledge of the victim

"Forcible compulsion" is defined as "compulsion by use of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional, or psychological force, either express or implied," and does not require that the victim resist the offender.

Sexual assault (a second-degree felony) consists of non-consensual sexual intercourse.  Sexual intercourse includes vaginal, anal or oral sex. There must be some penetration, however slight, but ejaculation is not necessary.  

Aggravated indecent assault (a second-degree felony), consists of penetration of the genitals or anus by a part of the offender's body without consent. Indecent assault is unwanted touching of intimate parts of the body and is a second-degree misdemeanor. 

Did You Know...

Rape is a significant problem on college campuses across the nation, where most victims are acquainted with their assailants. A major research study has shown that one in eight college women is the victim of rape during her college years, while one in four is the victim of an attempted rape. Most of the women (84%) knew the men who raped them and 57% were on dates. Ninety-five percent did not report the rape to officials; 42 percent of the victims told no one (Koss, M. "Scope of Rape." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1987.) The effects of rape on these student victims can be devastating, creating emotional, trauma-related difficulties and, consequently, disrupting or ending their academic careers.   

Learn the Facts

Myths about rape are pervasive in our culture. They function to discredit victims and make them feel personally responsible so they will not report the rape.  Myths also give women a false sense of security and dis-inhibit the behavior of rapists. Replacing myths with facts is the first step to alter the conditions that lead to rape.

Myth:  Rape is a sexual crime, impulsively committed by a man for sexual gratification.
Fact:  Rape is a crime of violence and aggression. Its intent is to overpower, degrade, and humiliate the victim.

Myth:  Rape can't happen to me or to someone I know.
Fact:  Rape victims come from all socioeconomic classes and ethnic backgrounds and range in age from 3 months to 97 years. Men and boys can be victims, too. The highest rape victimization rate is for women between the ages of 16 and 19; the second highest is for women between the ages of 20 and 24.

Myth:  Most rapes are committed by strangers in a dark place at night.
Fact:  It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Rape can take place anywhere, at any time. Many acquaintance rapes occur in the context of a dating relationship and typically take place on the man's turf. For college women, attending a party where alcohol is used involves more of a risk for sexual victimization than does walking alone down a dark street.

Myth:  Women provoke rape by how they behave, dress or where they choose to go. Rape is the victim's fault.
Fact:  Rape is never the victim's fault. If a woman wants to be involved sexually with a man, it would not be necessary for him to use force or threats of physical violence. Research shows that rapists look for women that they perceive as vulnerable.

Myth:  In a dating situation, when a woman says "no," she really means "yes."
Fact:  "No" means NO.

Myth:  Women report rapes to get even with men or to protect their reputations.
Fact:  According to the FBI, fewer than 2% of reports of rapes are false, which is the same percentage for the false reporting of other crimes. In fact, anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of all rapes are not reported to police.