According to Crystal Dynamics, a little groping doesn't constitute sexual assault.
Crystal Dyanmics would like to make it clear that there's no rape in the upcoming Tomb Raider. None. Zero. Nilch. In fact, according to global brand director, Karl Stewart, the R-word isn't even part of the studio's vocabulary.
The studio is trying to distance itself from statements made by executive producer, Ron Rosenberg, who claimed that, as the game's trailer seems to imply, Lara would be the victim of attempted rape. He then went on to imply, perhaps accidentally, that the event would build Lara's character, whipping up a maelstrom of controversy in the process.
"He said something which is certainly a word that is not in our vocabulary and not in our communication," Stewart told Kotaku, when asked about Rosenberg's statements. "He did say it... It's his personal opinion and certainly... like I said, it's not something that we communicate."
It seems like Stewart is trying to address the numerous media and blog sources who've erroneously reported that the game features a "rape scene," which is fair enough, but he then goes on to argue that the scene depicted in the trailer doesn't depict or imply sexual assault. Instead, he labels it "close physical intimidation," and a "pathological situation" meant to invoke fear and intimidation.
Stewart remained adamant that the scene did not depict sexual assault, despite interviewer, Jason Schreier's insistence on the contrary. Eventually, a PR representative listening in on the call asked him to drop that line of questioning.
Stewart also added that Rosenberg's claim that players would want to "protect" Lara, was a reference to the reaction of focus groups the game has been tested on.