What is Sexual Misconduct
BYU-Idaho is committed to promoting and maintaining a safe and respectful environment for the campus community. Sexual misconduct is against the law, contrary to the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code, and inconsistent with the life and teachings Jesus Christ, which we hope are embodied on our campus. The university prohibits sexual misconduct perpetrated by or against university students, university employees, participants in university programs, or visitors to its campus, whether the behavior occurs on or off campus.
This training explains:
- Conduct prohibited under the Idaho Criminal Code and the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy; specifically, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault.
- The definition of consent in reference to sexual activity under the Idaho Criminal Code and the University's prohibition against consensual premarital or extramarital activity; and
At the outset of this training, please know that if you are ever a victim of sexual misconduct, BYU-Idaho is here to help and is able to take protective measures to ensure your safety on campus.
You have likely seen in the news a growing concern over sexual misconduct perpetrated on college campuses. The statistics are troubling and have attracted the attention of many, but with increased attention to these issues comes an improved and safer experience for students throughout the country. BYU-Idaho takes these issues very seriously and will not tolerate sexual misconduct in any of its forms.
Our prohibition against these acts is certainly grounded in the law, but at its most fundamental level, our prohibition against these acts is founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. Most acts of sexual misconduct violate the God-given body of another without divine sanction—a literal temple of God that helps comprise the ‘soul of man’1. Our bodies play an integral role in our Father’s Eternal plan2, therefore, an act of sexual misconduct exploits the soul of another (comprised of the body and spirit) and “desecrates the Atonement of Christ, which saved that soul and which makes possible the gift of eternal life.”3
Heavenly Father created the plan of salvation so that we can experience life, return to His presence, and have joy. Central to this plan are the spiritual, emotional, and physical unity developed in marriage and family life. He gave us the capacity for physical intimacy so that we could strengthen and grow our eternal families. Sexual intimacy is an important part of marriage, and when it is used in the way that God has commanded, it brings great blessings and joy. While many in the world portray sex as casual or crude, the gospel teaches that sexuality is a powerful gift from Heavenly Father and that it should be used within the bounds He has set, with wisdom and reverence.4 We affirm the eternal truth “that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”5
At BYU-Idaho, we expect more of our students than the law requires because the Lord expects more of our students. As President James E. Faust once taught, “[T]here is great risk in justifying what we do individually…on the basis of what is “legal” rather than what is “right”…If you accept what is legal as your standard of personal….conduct, you will deny yourself of that which is truly noble in your personal dignity and worth.”7 We hope these training materials will be instructive for each of you, raise awareness about resources on campus and where you can turn for help, and renew your commitment to live a life of honor.
The University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy explains a range of offensive conduct that is prohibited at BYU-Idaho. Consensual premarital or extramarital sexual behavior, both of which are strictly prohibited under the Honor Code, is not the focus of this training. Our purpose here is to explain a range of sexual misconduct that is perpetrated without the consent of the other party—an act or acts that violate the individual freedom and dignity of another person. Specifically, this training focuses on the following behaviors:
- Dating Violence
- Domestic Violence
- Stalking, and
- Sexual Assualt
Dating Violence is a criminal offense committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic nature with the victim. Relationships where dating violence occurs are characterized by acts of jealousy, possessiveness, humiliation, fearfulness, control, unreasonable demands, excessive passion, shame, selfishness, and negativity.
In Idaho, dating violence is defined as “the physical injury, sexual abuse or forced imprisonment or threat thereof” by a person with whom the victim has had or is having a dating relationship.8
As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, staff, and students of… BYU-Idaho… seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will live a chaste and virtuous life…[and] respect others.” During a devotional address at BYU, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared the following counsel:
“In a dating and courtship relationship, I would not have you spend five minutes with someone who belittles you, who is constantly critical of you, who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor. Life is tough enough without having the person who is supposed to love you leading the assault on your self-esteem, your sense of dignity, your confidence, and your joy. In this person’s care you deserve to feel physically safe and emotionally secure. ” 9
Healthy relationships require mutual respect and compassion, and you deserve to be treated well in all of your interactions with others. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, or have a friend or loved one in an unhealthy relationship, there are individuals on our campus that can help you. A list of available resources and contact information is listed on our website.
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.10
In Idaho, domestic violence is defined as “the physical injury, sexual abuse or forced imprisonment or threat thereof of a family member.” Under Idaho law, a family member is defined as “spouses, former spouses and persons related by blood, adoption, or marriage.” There are several different crimes of domestic violence, but let us be very clear here lest we are misunderstood. To batter your spouse, meaning the intentional and unlawful touching or striking of your spouse, is clearly a punishable crime and violation of our Honor Code. But it is also criminal and a violation of our Honor Code to make threats of harm or violence towards your spouse, whether those threats are by word or action.11
The Lord and His Prophets have been very direct in this area, and BYU-Idaho has no tolerance for domestic violence in any degree. We are commanded to love our spouse with all of our heart (see D&C 42:22). In a 1998 General Conference address, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
“We condemn most strongly abusive behavior in any form. We denounce the physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse of one’s spouse or children. No man who abuses his wife or children is worthy to hold the priesthood of God. No man who abuses his wife or children is worthy to be a member in good standing in this Church. The abuse of one’s spouse and children is a most serious offense before God, and any who indulge in it may expect to be disciplined by the Church.” 12
Under Idaho law, a person commits the crime of stalking when they knowingly and maliciously engage in a course of conduct that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the victim and would cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress; or engages in a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of death or physical injury to themselves or a family member. As defined, “course of conduct” means repeated acts of nonconsensual contact involving the victim or family member of the victim.
Nonconsensual contact could include any of the following: following the victim or maintaining surveillance, including by electronic means; contacting the victim in a public place or on private property; appearing at the workplace or residence of the victim; entering onto or remaining on property occupied by the victim; contacting the victim by telephone or causing their phone to ring repeatedly or continuously regardless of whether a conversation ensues; sending mail or electronic communications to the victim; or placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property occupied by the victim.13
While the definition of stalking is a bit unwieldly, our commitment to the Honor Code requires us to “respect others”. If someone has asked that you not contact them or has not responded to repeated attempts to make contact with them, you should respect their right to exercise their own agency and discontinue making or attempting to make contact. Even if you are convinced that your way of thinking may be for someone else’s “own good” or that you are “right” for that person, it’s important that we each respect the right of others to have their own opinion and beliefs. If you or a friend or loved one are being stalked, there are protective measures that can be taken and resources available to you, both on and off campus. A list of contact information is included on our website.
Sexual assault is a broadly defined term that includes physical acts of a sexual nature that take place without a person’s consent. Sexual assault is traditionally associated with the crime of rape, but it also includes other crimes of sexual penetration as well as unlawful touching.
We need to be very clear here, and it is not our intent to offend or make you uncomfortable. Under Idaho law, rape is defined as an act of “penetration, however slight, of the oral, anal or vaginal opening with the perpetrator’s penis” without the consent of the victim.14 Consent will be explained in detail later in this training. It is also a crime under Idaho law to penetrate without consent the oral, anal, or vaginal opening of another by any device, instrument, or object, including one’s fingers.15 Finally, it is a crime to touch the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without the consent of that person.16
The line has been clearly marked by the Lord and His Prophets---any intentional contact with the sacred, private parts of another’s body, with or without clothing, is a sin and forbidden by God.17 If this occurs in a premarital or extramarital context between consenting parties, this is sin and we urge you to speak with your Bishop so that he can help you begin the repentance process. But if incidents like this occur without consent, it is a crime and the perpetrator of that crime could go to jail.
The Lord’s standard of morality is chastity before marriage and total fidelity in marriage. The surest way to avoid perpetrating a crime of sexual assault is to obey the Lord’s standard of morality, and in all of your relationships to avoid even the “appearance of evil”.18 In this regard, the Honor Code is one of the most important protections we have to avoid these incidents.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault or any form of sexual abuse in the past, you are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. You do not need to feel guilt, and are not guilty of sexual sin. There are individuals on our campus that can help you, and a list of available resources and contact information is listed on our website.
What is Consent in Reference to Sexual Activity?
Satan has led many people to believe that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable, but “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” Sexual intimacy is a “relationship…something you create” with your spouse…and “must be established….without exploitation…abuse…and without self-indulgence.”19 Although sexual intimacy is only divinely sanctioned within a marital relationship, the focus of our training is on non-consensual sexual misconduct, so let us explain how consent is defined under Idaho law.
Sexual activity requires consent—the affirmative, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in a specific sexual activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, and cannot be inferred from circumstances or prior sexual encounters between the parties. A sexual act is committed without consent if:
- the victim is incapable of giving legal consent because they are a minor (under the age of 18)
- the victim is incapable of giving legal consent because of mental illness, mental disability or developmental disability, whether temporary or permanent
- the victim resists but is overcome by the force or violence of the perpetrator
- the victim is prevented from resistance by the infliction, attempted infliction, or threatened infliction of bodily harm
- the victim is unable to resist due to any intoxicating, narcotic, or anesthetic substance
- the victim is unconscious of the nature of the act—meaning either unconscious or asleep, not aware that the act occurred, or submits under the belief that if they do not submit, the perpetrator will cause physical harm, damage to property, other criminal conduct, falsely accuse the victim of a crime, expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact (whether true or false), or subject the victim to hatred, contempt, or ridicule.
If you have any questions about these definitions or other concerns, would like to learn more, or need help for you or a friend, please contact a Title IX Coordinator by calling 208-496-9200, visiting us in the Kimball Building, room 290, or going to our website at www.byui.edu/titleix.
2 see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng
3 see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Personal Purity”, October 1998 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/10/personal-purity?lang=eng
5 see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng
7 “Be Healers”, J. Reuben Clark Law Society Fireside, February 28, 2003, retrieved from the “Clark Memorandum”, http://digitalcommons.law.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=life_law_vol2
8 Idaho Code Ann. § 39-603 (2015)
9 “How Do I Love Thee”, BYU Devotional, February 15, 2000, https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland_how-do-i-love-thee/
11 Idaho Code §39-603; see also §18-901 and §18-903
12 “What are People Asking About Us?”, October 1998 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/10/what-are-people-asking-about-us?lang=eng&media=video#watch=video
13 Idaho Code Ann. §18-7906 (2015)
14 Idaho Code Ann. §18-6101 (2015)
15 Idaho Code Ann. §18-6608 (2015)
17 Elder Richard G. Scott, “Serious Questions, Serious Answers”, New Era, October 1995, https://www.lds.org/new-era/1995/10/serious-questions-serious-answers?lang=eng
18 see 1 Thessalonians 5:22
19 President and Sister Clark, “A Chaste and Virtuous Life”, BYU-Idaho Devotional, January 9, 2007, http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/devotionals/2007_01_09_clark.htm