Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Resources

On Campus:

Ingrid Peterson, Sexual Assault Victim Advocate and Prevention Specialist, 785-8062, 149 Graff Main Hall
Student Life Office, 785-8062, 149 Graff Main Hall
Student Health Center, 785-8558, 1030 Health Science Center
Counseling & Testing Center, 785-8073, 2106 Centennial Hall
University Police, Emergency: 789-9999, Non-Emergency: 789-9000

Off Campus:

Great Rivers - Crisis Hotline, 211 or 1-800-362-8255 (24 hours)
Mayo Clinic Health System, 608-392-7804 or (800) 362-5454, X7804
Gundersen Lutheran, 608-775-3845 or 1-800-362-9567, X53845
La Crosse City Police, Emergency: 911, Non-Emergency: 785-5962

UW-L Commitment

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is committed to maintaining an environment in which all students can pursue their academic goals free from harm.  The University System, the Governor, and the Wisconsin legislature recognize that an important component of this commitment is working to provide an atmosphere free from danger of sexual assault.

Further, the Division of Student Development and Academic Services, in an ongoing effort to prevent sexual assaults on the UW-L campus, will continue to provide education and prevention programs, pursue complaints of sexual assault, and dispense disciplinary action when appropriate. The Student Life Office will continue to provide complainants with support and information regarding resources on and off campus as well as information on pursuing criminal action. Any action taken by members of the Division, in an effort to assist the victim in moving to survivor status, is done only with the consent of the victim.

Sexual Assault is a Crime

Any Unwanted Sexual Contact is Sexual Assault

It's important to understand the legal definition of sexual assault.  Any sexual contact that you do not want is sexual assault.  Sexual assault is any forced or coerced sexual intercourse or contact.  It is a crime of violence in which assailants, whether known to the victim or not, are motivated by a desire to humiliate and have power over the victim.  Refer to Wisconsin State Statutes 940.225 and 948.012.  There are four degrees of sexual assault.

It is easy for students to believe that sexual assault happens to other people, or, if it happens to them, that they must have done something to cause it.  Media portrayals of sexuality and socialization often make it difficult for women and men to sort out their own sexuality.  This sometimes results in sexual assault.  But sexual assault usually occurs by deliberate action on the part of the perpetrator.  Women and men need to be aware of the danger of sexual assault that exists in any community, the contributing factors that are in their personal control, such as alcohol and drug use and unclear communications, and the support services available to victims. 

What to do if you have been assaulted

If you are a victim of sexual assault, which may include either stranger or acquaintance assault (often called date rape), you have the right to proper medical care, privacy, freedom from harassment, and support services.  If you are a victim of a rape, you should:

  • Preserve the evidence.  Don't clean up, bathe, douche, or change clothes.
  • Go immediately to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.  Both Mayo Clinic Health System (10th & Market) and Gundersen Lutheran (1836 South Ave) provide sexual assault services, including SANE nurses and counselors. Both will help with reporting the assault to law enforcement if that is what the victim chooses to do. UW-L University Police or the La Crosse Police Department are available to take you to an emergency room if you need transportation.
  • Write down details about the assailant (height, weight, hair color, physical oddities, clothing and the name in the case of date or acquaintance rape) and circumstances as soon as possible.
  • Report the crime to UW-L University Police, 608-789-9999, or the La Crosse City Police, 911, or the UW-L Student Life Office, 785-8062, as quickly as possible.  Reporting the crime does not mean that you are asking for prosecution of the alleged perpetrator, but it does help provide you with resources, as well as helping to ensure the safety of other students.
  • Get help for yourself no matter how long ago or under what circumstances you were assaulted.  Immediate and ongoing help is available from First Call for Help, 782-8010 (24 hours) and the UW-L Counseling & Testing Center, 785-8073 (8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday). The sexual assault services at the local hospitals are also available for support, counseling, and information about the different options that are available to you -- Mayo Clinic Health System, 608-392-7804 or (800) 362-5454, X7804, and Gundersen Lutheran, 608-775-3845 or 1-800-362-9567, X53845.

The Student Life Office urges victims to report instances of sexual assault (or any assault or harassment) for the following reasons:

  • So that the Office may have the opportunity to offer assistance to students who have been harmed.
  • So that, if the offender is a student, we may explore the possibility of University disciplinary action against the perpetrator (only with the victim's consent).
  • So that the University may know the truth about what is happening to students; and knowing this, can better plan programs of intervention and education.

Legal Definitions of Sexual Assault in the State of Wisconsin

This information was taken from the Wisconsin State Statutes and is not in its entirety -- information that is pertinent to college campuses is included below. The statute in full can be found at Wis. State. Sec. 940.225.

First Degree Sexual Assault  Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B felony:
    (a) has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person and causes pregnancy or great bodily harm to that person;
    (b) has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of use of a dangerous weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be a dangerous weapon;
    (c) is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of force or violence.

Second Degree Sexual Assault Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class C felony:
    (a) has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of force or  violence; 
    (b) has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person and causes injury, illness, disease, or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care for the victim;
    (c) has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person who suffers from a mental illness or deficiency which renders that person incapable of appraising the person's conduct and the defendant knows of such condition;
    (cm) has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is under the influence of an intoxicant to a degree which renders that person incapable of giving consent if the defendant has actual knowledge that the person is incapable of giving consent and has the purpose to have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with the person while the person is incapable of giving consent;
    (d) has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who the defendant knows is unconscious;
    (f) is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of that person;
    (g) is an employee of a facility or program under s.940.295 (2) (b), (c), (h), or (k) and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is a patient or resident of the facility or program.

Third Degree Sexual Assault Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class G felony. Whoever has sexual contact in the manner described in sub. (5) (b) 2. with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class G Felony.

Fourth Degree Sexual Assault Except as provided in sub.(3), whoever has sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Child a person who has not reached the age of 18 years.  A child cannot "consent" until reaching the age of 18.
-  "Consent" means words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact.  Consent is not an issue in alleged violations of second degree (c), (cm), (d), (g).  The following persons are presumed incapable of consent but the presumption may be rebutted by competent evidence, subject to the provisions of s. 972.11 (2):
- A person suffering from a mental illness or defect which impairs capacity to appraise personal conduct.
- A person who is unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.
Sexual Contact - Means any of the following:
(a)  Intentional touching by the complainant or defendant, either directly or through clothing by the use of any body part or object, of the complainants or defendants intimate parts if that intentional touching is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or for the purpose of sexually humiliating the complainant or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant or if the touching contains the elements of actual or attempted battery under s.940.19(1);
    (b) Intentional penile ejaculation of ejaculate or intentional emission of urine or feces by the defendant upon any part of the body clothed or unclothed of the complainant if that ejaculation or emission is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant;
Sexual intercourse
includes the meaning assigned under s.939.22(36) as well as cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal opening either by the defendant or upon the defendant's instruction. The emission of semen is not required.
Sexual intercourse with a child age 16 or older.
Whoever has sexual intercourse with a child who is not the defendant's spouse and who has attained the age of 16 years is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Sexual exploitation by a therapist - Intentional sexual contact by a therapist during any ongoing therapist/patient or therapist/client relationship.  This is also a crime and should be reported.  Refer to Wisconsin State Statutes 940.22.

UW-L Procedures for Reporting Sexual Assault

In order to protect UW-L students from victimization and to comply with Wisconsin and federal statutes on the collection and reporting of sexual assaults, we urge your cooperation in reporting campus crime and in joining the University community in decreasing it.

  • Sexual Assaults Reported to Law Enforcement

    (victim is a UW-L student, assault occurs either on or off campus and is reported to Police or University Police).

    • When University Police responds to a sexual assault that has occurred on the UW-L campus, they notify the La Crosse Police and meet them at the victim's residence.  (If the victim asks University Police not to call the police, they will honor the request; however, they will encourage the victim to report the alleged crime.)
    • When the La Crosse Police respond to a sexual assault directly reported to them, whether on or off campus, University Police solicits information on UW-L students from the La Crosse Police on a monthly basis.  Sexual assaults occurring outside the jurisdiction of the La Crosse City Police Department may be reported to University Police by the responding police department.
    • In cases of sexual assault where alcohol has been consumed, both the city police and the campus police will not issue a citation to the victim for underage drinking.
  • Confidential Reports of Sexual Assault

    (victim is a UW-L student who does not wish to report the incident to Police or University Police.)

    • Students are encouraged to report assaults and seek help from the staff at the Counseling and Testing Center, the Student Life Office, the UW-L Student Health Center, and, if appropriate, Residence Life. Names of victims are confidential.
    • Faculty and staff who come into contact with a student who has been a victim of sexual assault should be compassionate and supportive. Assure the student that names of victims are always confidential.

            Staff from the Counseling & Testing Center, the UW-L Student Health Center, and the Student Life Office have created a confidential reporting form This form should be filled out as completely as possible by anyone who has received a firsthand report of sexual assault. The expectation is that the form will be completed only after talking with the victim, not during the conversation. When the form is completed, it should be turned into the Student Life Office, 149 Graff Main Hall. The confidential forms will be used to compile sexual assault statistics that are reported to UW-System and the federal government on an annual basis. It is in the best interests of the campus community that all sexual assaults be reported by using this form, even if they are not reported to law enforcement officials. It is NOT intended that the form be completed by the victim nor is it to be used as a questionnaire.

  • Student Life Office (OSL)

    • Following an assault, the OSL can assist the survivor, when requested, by working with the appropriate agencies to explore options in modifying academic schedules and living arrangements.
    • OSL is responsible for compiling the data for compliance with UW System, state, and federal reporting requirements, with the cooperation of the campus community.
    • OSL is also charged with the responsibility for the investigation and formal adjudication of all disciplinary cases involving UW-La Crosse students.  Students should understand that the campus judicial system operates independently from the criminal justice system and that the University strongly encourages the survivor of an alleged assault to report the incident to the OSL.
    • As with any allegation of academic or nonacademic misconduct, the accused party in a sexual assault case will be afforded substantive and procedural due process.  If the accused student requests a hearing, both parties (the accused as well as the accuser) are entitled to be accompanied by a person(s) of their choice during the disciplinary proceedings.  It is also the policy of UW-L to notify the accused, as well as the accuser, of the findings and of the recommended sanction of any campus disciplinary proceeding.
    • Sanctions levied against students involved in misconduct can vary.  Due to the seriousness of the offense, sanctions for rape, acquaintance rape or other sex offenses (whether forcible or nonforcible) will generally be either suspension (for a period of time up to two years) or expulsion.

Title IX and Sexual Assault

Title IX's prohibition against sex discrimination is for the protection of students, faculty, and staff in federally funded education programs. The law applies to every aspect of the program, such as admissions, recruitment, academics, employment, athletics, and student services. Title IX's broad prohibition against sex discrimination also includes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual assault and rape are severe types of sexual harassment.

Title IX based grievances may be filed with the UW-La Crosse Affirmative Action Office, 235 Graff Main Hall, and/or the Office for Civil Rights.

UW-La Crosse, City of La Crosse, Wisconsin, & USA Statistics

UW-La Crosse calendar year 2007    
Sexual Assaults reported                
         (with victim UW-L student)
       Victim and assailant were acquaintances 18  
       Victim and assailant were not acquaintances   0  
       Unknown if victim and perpetrator were acquaintances  0  
Year's total includes: 0 -  first degree  
  7 -  second degree  
  4 -  third degree  
  2 -  fourth degree  
  5 - unknown
Comparison to previous years: 2006    -     9  
  2005   -      9  
  2004    -     13  
City of La Crosse reports    
Calendar year 2005: 92 sexual assaults  
     Totals include:    16 first degree  
     54 second degree  
       3 third degree  
     19 fourth degree  
State of Wisconsin    
     2004:  5,618 assaults reported    
     2003:  5,398 assaults reported    
     2002:  5,671 assaults reported    
Estimates say one of every 10 sexual assaults is reported to the police.  92 percent of victims are female:  98 percent of assailants are male.  75 percent of assailants are friend, acquaintance, or family member.  63 percent of assaults occur in the victim's or assailant's home.
National Statistics    
     2004:      94,635 offenses reported    
     2003:      93,883 offenses reported    
     2002:      95,136 offenses reported    
Includes forcible rape, assaults or attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force.