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What Is Sexual Assault? . What Is a SART? . How Did SARTs Evolve?
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What Is Sexual Assault?

Generally, sexual assault is any act of sexual contact without consent or without legal consent due to age or mental or physical incapacity. However, specific legal definitions for sexual assault include a wide range of criminal behaviors classified by state, territory, and federal statutes and campus, tribal, and military codes. For example—

  • The California Penal Code (section 261.6) defines consent to mean positive cooperation in act or attitude. The person must act freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the act involved.
  • Illinois stipulates that the victim's manner of dress at the time of the offense does not constitute consent (720 ILCS 5/12-17).
  • According to the University of Virginia, consent means words or actions that show a voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. The school teaches students that consent is an uninfluenced yes—where both people feel free to say yes or no or to withdraw consent at any time.

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