Sexual Assault on Campus Comes to Light with New Law
In recent years, many people have focused on the failure of colleges and universities to properly handle claims of sexual assault or misconduct on campus. Lawmakers in Texas passed a law last year that took effect on January 1, 2020, that provides consequences for individuals who fail to meet their responsibility to report sexual assault. Legislators hope this will prevent cover-ups by institutions similar to the recent scandal at some college universities.
Because of the potentially serious – and criminal – consequences of failure to report, it is important that all employees of Texas colleges and universities fully understand and comply with their obligations.
Requirements of SB 212
The new law, SB 212, now requires university employees to report credible complaints of any of the following:
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual assault
- Dating violence
Almost all employees of a school have reporting requirements with one important exception. Certain individuals – such as campus healthcare providers of counselors – are designated to be confidential resources for students. Students can report to such individuals and keep their identities confidential, as these specified individuals only need to report that a certain kind of sexual misconduct happened without providing additional information.
Unless someone is a designated confidential resource, employees must report information they receive regarding sexual misconduct involving students or school employees. They must report all of the information they have about the incident to the Title IX office of the institution.
Criminal Charges for Noncompliance
The law sets out serious consequences for failing to report sexual misconduct when necessary. First, institutions are required to terminate employees who violate the law. As if losing your job is not serious enough, you can also face criminal charges for the failure to report.
Legislators provided for Class B misdemeanor charges against noncompliant employees, and a conviction can come with up probation, up to 180 days in jail, and fines up to $2,000. If someone is accused of intentionally trying to cover up an incident or conceal information, the charge can be escalated to a Class A misdemeanor. This level of conviction can mean one year in jails and fines up to $4,000.
We do not yet know how enforcement of the new law will go, and whether there will be criminal prosecutions for failure to report. In the event you are accused of noncompliance with the law, you should immediately consult with a Texas criminal defense attorney who can help defend against your charges.
Seek Help from a Denton Criminal Defense Attorney
The laws in Texas are regularly changing, and new types of conduct can be criminalized with potentially serious consequences. At the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC, we defend against all types of criminal allegations, from traffic tickets to violent felonies, and we are prepared to represent college employees accused of violating the new laws. Call 940-222-2488 or contact us online as soon as possible if you are accused of any type of criminal offense in or around the Denton area.