Skip to main content

Sexual abuse or assault is a broad category that includes many different acts. For this reason, the law is shaped to accommodate various kinds of sexual abuse as well as the situations in which they occur. In Oregon, sex offenses cover a wide range of acts with different levels of punishments depending on the age of the victim, the nature of the act, and its severity. Because of this, it can also be tricky to determine which category a specific incident falls into. The following lays out different categories of sexual offenses in Oregon and the necessary definitions to understand the various types and the associated punishments. These definitions have been somewhat simplified for clarity’s sake, but a list of all sexual offenses and their in-depth corresponding definitions can be found online in multiple places, including at https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/ under Oregon Revised Statutes Volume 04, Chapter 163.

Categories of Oregon Sexual Abuse

The categories of sexual abuse in Oregon include rape, sodomy, unlawful penetration, sexual abuse, online sexual corruption of a child, contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, and sexual misconduct. Each of these categories defines a different sexual act, and most are divided into subcategories—first, second, and sometimes third-degree. First-degree offenses are the most serious, while third-degree offenses are the least serious. Additionally, each kind of offense and the degree of severity is correlated with a legal classification. These classifications are divided into felonies and misdemeanors, and each of these categories is further divided into classes A, B, and C, with class A being the most serious and class C being the least serious.

Understanding Common Phrases and Definitions of Sexual Abuse

Additionally, there are many common phrases used throughout these categories that are helpful to know to understand each grouping fully. Starting with basic definitions, “sexual intercourse” means vaginal penetration “however slight”. Similarly, “oral or anal sexual intercourse” is defined as sexual conduct between the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. “Sexual contact” simply involves any touching of “sexual or other intimate parts” of a person, including causing the victim to touch the perpetrator for the perpetrator’s sexual gratification.

The above definitions cover the basic groups, but within each group, some phrases are commonly used and essential to know. One of these is the phrase “incapable of consent”; this means that the person is under 18, incapable of understanding or controlling the other person’s conduct, or unconscious or unable to communicate their unwillingness. Another common phrase is “forcible compulsion,” which covers both actual physical force and a threat of injury, death, or kidnapping.

Rape, Sodomy, or Unlawful Sexual Penetration

Diving into the definitions and punishments of each category, the first three offenses listed in Oregon’s criminal code are rape, sodomy, and unlawful sexual penetration. Rape covers sexual intercourse, sodomy covers oral or anal sexual intercourse, and unlawful penetration covers penetration of the vagina, anus, or penis of a person with an object besides the penis or mouth. All three offenses are grouped into first, second, and third-degree offenses the same way.

First-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration

For rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration to be considered first-degree, the act must meet one of the following criteria. The act is inflicted:

  •  through forcible compulsion
  •  against someone who is under 12 years old
  •  against someone who is under 16, but is the person’s sibling (or half-sibling) or child (or stepchild)
  •  against a person who is incapable of consent. This is considered a class A felony.

Regarding imprisonment, the punishment for first-degree rape, sodomy, or sexual penetration is a minimum of 200 months imprisonment (if the victim is under 12) or 100 months imprisonment (if the victim is not under 12) and a maximum of 20 years imprisonment. However, there is a caveat here: if the person has one or more previous convictions of first-degree rape, sodomy, unlawful penetration, or child pornography, they have a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. Regarding fines, the maximum penalty is $375,000.

Second-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration

Second-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration is a slightly lesser charge. This follows the same basic definition of rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration as first-degree. However, the criteria for this kind of act to be considered second-degree is that the victim is under 14 years old. This act is considered a class B felony. The punishment for second-degree rape sodomy or unlawful sexual penetration is a minimum of 75 months imprisonment and a maximum of 10 years. Additionally, there is a maximum of a $250,000 fine.

Third-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration

Finally, third-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration is the least severe charge of these groupings. This has the same definition for each act but is against a person who is under 16 years old. Third-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration is considered a class C felony. Therefore, it carries a punishment of a maximum of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum of a $125,000 fine.

Sexual Abuse

The next category of offenses is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is defined as sexual contact. Like rape, sodomy, and unlawful sexual penetration, this grouping is divided into first, second, and third degree. First-degree sexual abuse requires that the sexual contact be forcible against someone under 14 or against a person incapable of giving consent.

First-degree sexual abuse

Additionally, first-degree sexual abuse includes forcing a person under 18 to touch the sex organs of an animal to sexually gratify the perpetrator. This is considered a class B felony and carries the same punishment as second-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual contact.

Second-degree sexual abuse

Second-degree sexual abuse is defined as subjecting a person to sexual intercourse, sodomy, or sexual penetration when the person does not consent. Sexual abuse is also considered to be of the second degree when the perpetrator commits third-degree sexual abuse but is older than 21 years old and was, at any time before the offense, the person’s coach. This is considered a class C felony and carries the same punishment as third-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration.

Third-degree sexual abuse

Finally, third-degree sexual abuse is defined as sexual contact when the person does not consent or is incapable of consent because they are under 18. Also, this includes intentionally propelling blood, urine, semen, or feces at the person without their consent to sexually gratify the perpetrator. This is a class A misdemeanor. Therefore, the punishment is a maximum of one year of imprisonment and a maximum of a $6,250 fine.

Online Sexual Corruption Of A Child

The following offense is “online sexual corruption of a child”. This act occurs when the perpetrator is 18 years or older and knowingly uses online communication to ask a child to engage in sexual contact or sexually explicit contact for the perpetrator’s sexual gratification. Also, the perpetrator must offer or agree to physically meet with the child. This definition applies to second-degree online sexual corruption of a child. This is a class C felony and carries the same punishment as third-degree rape, sodomy, and unlawful sexual penetration. For this grouping, first-degree online sexual corruption of a child uses the same definition, but the perpetrator also must take a substantial step towards physically meeting with or encountering the child. This is considered a class B felony and has the same punishment as second-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration.

Contributing To The Sexual Delinquency Of A Minor

Another somewhat similar offense is “contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor”. For an act to fall into this category, the perpetrator must be 18 years old or older and engage in vaginal, oral, or anal sexual intercourse with a person under 18 years old or cause that person to engage in oral or anal sexual intercourse. This act is a class A misdemeanor. Therefore, it carries the same punishment as third-degree sexual abuse.

Sexual Misconduct

The last classification is “sexual misconduct”. This act is relatively simple; it is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse or sodomy with someone who is under 18 years old and unmarried. This act is a class C misdemeanor. This means that the punishment is a maximum of 30 days’ imprisonment and a maximum of a $1,250 fine. Additionally, another kind of sexual misconduct exists: custodial sexual misconduct. This classification is slightly more complicated. Custodial sexual misconduct is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse, oral or anal sexual intercourse, or unlawful sexual penetration with another person knowing that the person is:

  • In the custody of law enforcement after being arrested
  • Contained/detained in a correctional facility
  • Participating in a work crew or work release program
  • On a form of conditional or supervised release from imprisonment

Additionally, the perpetrator must either:

  • Operate the correctional facility.
  • Be responsible for supervising the person.
  • Engage the other person in work or on-the-job training.

For this offense, consent is irrelevant. Custodial sexual misconduct is considered a class C felony and therefore carries the same punishment as third-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration.

At Crew Janci LLP, we are committed to helping survivors of sexual abuse find healing, help, and justice. We understand the courage it takes for victims to come forward, and we strive to provide the support and legal expertise they need during their journey toward healing. If you or someone you love has been sexually abused, please contact us today. We are here to help.

You are not alone. We are here to help.

Risa Saulino

Risa is a rising senior at the University of California, San Diego, majoring in Political Science – Public Law and minoring in Law and Society. Risa has always been passionate about advocating for others. She spent her sophomore and junior years working at UC San Diego’s Cross-Cultural Center, educating the UCSD community about social justice issues, and this past spring, she interned at Rising for Justice in Washington, D.C., providing legal assistance to low-income D.C. residents. Risa is grateful for the opportunity to work with Crew Janci and help advocate for justice for their clients. In her free time, Risa enjoys baking, playing piano, and spending time outdoors.