Information regarding documented sex offenders enrolled at the college can be obtained from the College Police Department.
Sexual Assault is a crime punishable by both civil and criminal legal action. Thomas Nelson Community College also encourages victims to prosecute alleged perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. There are several avenues for assistance if a person becomes the victim of a sex offense.
Victims of sexual assault tend to feel a variety of conflicting emotions: rage, fear, depression, relief to have survived, numbness, and exhaustion, to name just a few. Victims should always remember that they did not cause the assault to occur and should not bear the blame.
Thomas Nelson Community College has a trained professional counseling staff available to assist you. The Commonwealth Attorney’s office of the City of Hampton’s victim/witness assistance program is also available to assist you in any way possible. Referral information is accessible at all times regarding area services available for general counseling, medical attention or financial assistance. Responsiveness to the needs of crime victims is a number one priority.
If you are the victim of a sexual assault:
- Contact the police immediately.
- You will be transported to the hospital to be examined.
- If possible, do not change your clothes, shower, or eat or drink between the time the attacked occurred and the trip to the hospital. Bring a change of clothes with you because the police will need the clothes you were wearing for evidence.
- Even if you do not wish to prosecute, it is important that you have a physical exam after the attack. Besides bruises or other physical injuries, the perpetrator might have passed on a sexually transmitted disease of some type that requires treatment. An HIV/AIDS test may also ease your mind, although approximately six months must elapse after an attack to accurately detect the presence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
- Seek counseling from the Thomas Nelson Community College Counseling Center, Peninsula Behavioral Center, or a private counselor. All of these services are CONFIDENTIAL. If you are not comfortable talking with a counselor, consider talking with a trusted friend or family member.
- Consider your judicial options if you have not done so already. Although there are statutes of limitation on criminal cases, they are often longer than you think. You also have the option of campus and civil charges.
- If the assault and its aftermath are interfering with your ability to complete your academic work, talk with the Vice President for Student Affairs about academic relief. The Vice President for Student Affairs Office will assist in changing academic situations after an alleged sexual assault incident, should the victim request such assistance and such changes are reasonably available.
- Remember that it is never too late to deal with a sexual assault, and that you can heal from this significant trauma. Several agencies are available to assist you in many ways.
Family members and friends often have strong reactions and feel much concern when they learn that a loved one has been sexually assaulted. Below are some suggestions on how to assist the victim:
- Above all, do not blame the victim for the sexual assault.
- Reassure the victim that you believe her or him. Confessions of this nature are very, very difficult to make, and the victim likely fears disbelief as much as blame.
- Ask the victim what she or he needs. As tempting as it might be, do not step in and take control of the situation. The victim has had control taken away from her or him by the sexual assault, and it is vital that he or she regains control in the healing process. Although you may think you know best, let the victim make the decisions.
- You may feel unable to assist the victim because of your own emotions or beliefs. Its fine to tell her or him this in a nonjudgmental manner, and refer her or him to someone more qualified to help.
- If the perpetrator is someone you know, do not confront him/her.
- Encourage the victim to seek assistance, and remember that you too will need support as you go through this difficult time with your loved one.
As mentioned above, victims of very recent assaults should go to the hospital for a physical exam and the collection of evidence. All victims, past or present, should be seen by a qualified physician to check for sexually transmitted diseases, physical trauma, and possible pregnancy. Female victims may prefer to see a female physician, and should request one if that will increase their level of comfort, though in the emergency room that may not always be possible. Victims may also want to contact their private doctor and schedule a follow-up.
Counseling is often crucial to the recovery process, and victims should be encouraged to seek the assistance of qualified professionals, even if many years have elapsed since the assault. As always, the choice to seek counseling should be the victims.
Legal and Judicial Options
Sexual assault victims have three judicial options from which to choose: filing criminal charges, filing campus judicial charges, and filing a civil suit for monetary damages. Victims are not limited to just one of these options, but can choose any combination including filing all three types of charges. Below is a brief description of each type of judicial process.
Filing criminal charges means going to the police. If the assault happened on campus, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Thomas Nelson Community College Police. If it happened off-campus, but still in the City of Hampton, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Hampton Police. If the assault occurred in another locality, then the local police should be consulted. The Hampton Police Division will assist the Thomas Nelson Community College Police with the investigation of sexual assaults occurring on campus.
Many victims believe that if they do not file criminal charges immediately, they lose that option. There are statutes of limitation for filing criminal charges, but they are typically several years in duration. Naturally, it is best to go to the police as soon as possible after an assault, in order to preserve as much evidence as possible. The police will arrange for the victim to be seen at the hospital for medical care and evidence collection. However, even if some time has elapsed, the police still strongly encourage victims to come forward.
Criminal charges are prosecuted by the state of Virginia, not the individual victim. A commonwealth attorney will argue that case at no cost to the victim. The victim serves as the primary witness to the crime, and his or her testimony is crucial to the case. Criminal cases may take considerable time to proceed through the justice system. Typically, the identity of the victim is protected by the press, although the identity of the accused perpetrator is not.
Campus judicial charges can only be filed if the alleged offender is a Thomas Nelson Community College student. The referral agent is typically a member of the Thomas Nelson Community College community as well. The campus judicial system examines violations of college policy. Campus judicial hearings do not replace or substitute for criminal prosecutions, and students who choose campus judicial hearings are also encouraged to seek redress through the criminal justice system and civil court. So long as the accused student is enrolled in school, there is no statute of limitations on filing judicial charges. Refer to the Student Code of Conduct for additional information.
Sexual assault victims have the right to sue the perpetrator or other involved parties for monetary damages. This type of prosecution, which may be pursued alone or in conjunction with criminal and/or campus judicial charges, does require an attorney. As with campus judicial action, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. Victims considering this type of prosecution are advised to consult a legal advisor or a private attorney for information.
Sex Offender Information
The Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry (SOR) for violent sex offenders is maintained by Virginia State Police and is available via Internet pursuant to Section 9.1-913, of the Code of Virginia. The registry information provided under this section is to be used for the purposes of the administration of criminal justice, screen of current or prospective employees, volunteers or otherwise for the protection of the public in general and children in particular.
Sex Crimes Prevention Act
The federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act was enacted on October 28, 2000. The Law requires institutions of higher education to issue a statement advising the campus community where law enforcement information provided by a State concerning registered sex offenders may be obtained. It also requires sex offenders already required to register in a State to provide notice of each institution of higher education in that State at which the person is employed, carries on a vocation, or is a student. In the Commonwealth of Virginia convicted sex offenders must register with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry maintained by the Virginia Department of State Police. Information concerning offenders registered may be disclosed to any person requesting information on specific individuals in accordance with the law. The following State Police web site has further information and requests for information can be submitted electronically: http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/