Sexual Abuse and Assault Policy

Sexual Abuse and Assault Policy and Programs

Sexual abuse is a serious criminal offense which can adversely affect the lives of all concerned. Mount Mercy is committed to addressing allegations of sexual abuse and to providing counseling and support. The University shall maintain the confidentiality of all proceedings to the extent that University procedures and state and federal law allow.


Sexual Abuse: Any sexual act between persons (including: non-consensual sexual intercourse (rape); non-consensual sexual contact (sexual assault) and sexual exploration is sexual abuse by either one when the act is performed with the other participant in any of the following circumstances:

  1. The act is done by force or against the will of the other. If the consent or acquaintance of the other is procured by threats of violence toward any person or if the act is done while the other is under the influence of a drug-induced sleep, or is otherwise in a state of unconsciousness, or the act is done against the will of the other. 
  2. When the victim is incapable of giving consent because he or she suffers from a mental defect or incapacity or lacks the mental capacity to know the right and wrong of conduct in sexual matters. 
  3. The other person is a child. 

Consent is informed, through mutually understandable words, which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Furthermore, at any time during consensual sexual activity, a person may refuse to continue further with any sexual activity. From the point of refusal; previous consent is rendered invalid.

State of Iowa Statute

The State of Iowa defines incapacitation as meaning a person is disabled or deprived of ability, as follows:

Mentally incapacitated means that a person is temporarily incapable of apprising or controlling the person’s own conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance.

Physically helpless means that a person is unable to communicate unwillingness to act because the person is unconscious, asleep, or is otherwise physically or mentally limited.

Physically incapacitated means that a person has a bodily impairment or handicap that substantially limits the person’s ability to resist or flee.

The State of Iowa and Mount Mercy University use the following sexual abuse definition. Sexual abuse is considered a felony as defined in Section 709 of the Iowa State Code. Sexual assault is considered first-degree sexual abuse under Iowa law. Sexual assault is defined as forced penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with a finger, penis or any other object.

Although the term “rape” is used in this policy and in other educational material, the Iowa legal system uses the umbrella term of sexual abuse and sexual assault, and not the specific term “rape,” when cases are taken to court. Sexual assaults occur on a broad continuum and include—criminal behaviors endangering another/other persons. They range from verbal assaults to rape. Mount Mercy University takes a very strong stance against acts of violence by a member of our community. Students found responsible of sexual assault can expect strong disciplinary actions by the University. Any community member with knowledge of any incidents of sexual assault should report them to the Department of Public Safety and Cedar Rapids Police Department.

Sex Under the Influence

As outlined above, consenting sex recognizes sober, verbal communication, free of threats or other coercion. University policy recognizes that someone who is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is unable to give consent.


Mount Mercy encourages all individuals who have been sexually abused to seek medical attention as well as emotional support. The University Health Services Office and University counselor are available to assist students. Employees may seek assistance through the University’s Employee Assistance Program. It is recommended and encouraged that a survivor seeks confidential counseling.

Reporting Incidents of sexual abuse may be reported either by the complainant, or by another person with the approval of the complainant, who shall serve as a liaison with the appropriate University personnel. This may be done without revealing the name of the complainant. The information will be kept confidential to the full extent permitted by law. The complainant is required to report any incidents of alleged sexual abuse to the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

Sexual Harassment

A person with a complaint may contact any trusted person (e.g. one of the deans, the counselor, residence life, and an academic advisor). This person will then assist the complainant in contacting the Equal Opportunity Officer (EOO). The EOO will maintain a record of and investigate any reported additional incidents. Campus Safety Mount Mercy expects students, faculty, and staff to report allegations to the Cedar Rapids Police Department for any investigation and possible charges.

Mount Mercy safety assistants will respond to an emergency, but safety assistants are not law enforcement officers. University Disciplinary Proceedings The complainant may file an internal complaint against the accused using the formal process provided for sexual harassment complaints. Either party may have an advocate at any meetings or hearings related to this matter. This process may be used whether a criminal charge is filed or not and also may be used if the alleged assailant is found not guilty in a criminal court.

The University reserves the right to bring a complaint against a student for sexual misconduct if the student is deemed a threat to the University community. If the incident has been reported to the police and the alleged assailant has been charged with the crime, the individual may be suspended indefinitely pending review of the circumstances by the University. The assailant may be expelled, suspended for a specific period, or barred from attending, determined by the appropriate vice president.

In a situation where sexual abuse has occurred, the University will make every effort to change a complainant's academic employment and/or living situations, if requested and reasonably available. It is Mount Mercy University procedure that: a)The accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during a disciplinary proceeding; and b) Both the accuser and the accused must be informed of the outcome of any institutional disciplinary proceeding brought alleging a sex offense.


Retaliation of any kind against anyone in good faith filing a complaint of sexual abuse or participating in the investigation process is prohibited and may be sanctioned. Any individual making malicious or deceitful allegations of sexual abuse may also be subject to appropriate disciplinary sanctions.

Sex Offender Registry

All Mount Mercy University students and employees are advised of Iowa Code, Section 692A.3A which ‘provides that a person required to register under the Iowa Sex Offender Registry law who is a full-time or part-time student or is employed on a part-time or full-time basis at an institution of higher education must register with the sheriff of the county in which the institution is located and provide the sheriff with the name of the institution. The person must register with the sheriff within five days of becoming a student or becoming employed at the institution. In compliance with the Clery Act, the Mount Mercy community is advised that the Iowa Sex Offender Registry is available at Additionally, in that Mount Mercy campus property lies in legal proximity to elementary and middle schools and under provisions of Iowa Code 692A.3A, Mount Mercy will not offer housing nor permit occupancy to those listed on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry.