Last year, Texas legislators took action to try to prevent future controversies involving sexual assault cover-ups on college and university campuses. Many people in Texas were impacted by the Baylor scandal in recent years, and lawmakers believe that implementing strict reporting requirements for college and university employees will help avoid similar cover-ups.
As of January 1, 2020, a new law - SB 212 - took effect that allows for criminal charges and other consequences against college employees who fail to report incidences of the following:
The law applies to all employees of an institution. If certain counselors or health workers are designated as confidential resources, they need only report the type of misconduct reported, and not specific details.
Requirements Under SB 212
Every private and public institution of higher education in the State of Texas should be in full compliance with the law, which includes the following:
- Employees who receive information about or witness sexual assault or similar misconduct involving an employee or current student must report it to the Title IX Office.
- With the exception of employees with designated confidentiality, the report must include all the information known to the employee regarding the incident in question.
Those employees who make good faith reports are immune from retaliation by the institution under the law.
Charges for Failure to Report Sexual Misconduct
If you are an employee of a college or university in Texas, and it is discovered that you failed to properly report sexual assault or another incident of misconduct when required to do so, you can face serious consequences. First, the law requires that institutions terminate such employees who violate this law. Next, you can face criminal charges for failing to report or for making a false report.
Generally, this offense is charged as a Class B misdemeanor, which can mean fines up to $2,000 and a maximum of 180 days in jail. If it is suspected that someone did not report an incident because they intended to conceal that the misconduct might have occurred, charges can be increased to a Class A misdemeanor. This can mean fines up to $4,000 and a maximum of one year in county jail.
In the upcoming year, it will be interesting to see how often college employees are prosecuted under the new law. If you are arrested on suspicion of failing to report sexual misconduct at an institution, you should seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney in Austin as soon as possible.
Discuss Your Concerns with an Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer
While it can take time to adjust to new requirements under recently enacted state laws, it is important to realize that violations can lead to serious consequences - including criminal penalties. The defense team at Granger and Mueller PC is here to help, and we can handle even the most complex criminal cases. Please call 512-474-9999 or contact us online if you have been accused of a crime today.