Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse

The key element in any sex offense is the lack of consent to the sexual activity.  The lack of consent may be due to force, physical helplessness (which could include being drunk or drugged) or mental incapacitation.


West Virginia law outlines two main categories of sex offenses.


  • Sexual abuse occurs when a person subjects another person to sexual contact without their consent by using physical force, threat or intimidation.

  • Sexual assault is vaginal, anal or oral penetration of a person’s body by an object or any part of another person’s body.  Sexual assault can include:

    • Rape

    • Forcible sodomy

    • Forcible object penetration

    • Incest (sexual contact between family members)


West Virginia law also addresses age limitations to consent to sexual intercourse.




Stalking is defined as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person fear." But, unlike other crimes such as speeding and murder, there is no "master list" of behaviors that constitute harassment. Harassment, using the West Virginia definition of "willful conduct," could include numerous behaviors.


The following is a list of behaviors that could potentially be considered stalking or harassment:


  • Surveillance or watching the victim (sitting in a car in front of the victim's house, going through the victim's trash, contacting the victim's family and friends, etc.)

  • Pursuing/following the victim

  • Unexpected appearances where the victim works, lives, goes to school or visits

  • Approaching or confronting the victim, perhaps even in violation of a protective order

  • Telephone harassment, which might include playing disturbing music, hang-ups or threats

  • Sending/giving unwanted gifts, letters or e-mails to the victim

  • Monitoring of telephone calls or computer use

  • Use or misuse of technology to stalk and harass (see below)

  • Spreading rumors or otherwise defaming the victim's character

  • Vandalism or other destruction of property

  • Threat to the victim and/or her/his family, friends and pets

  • Physical attacks