A college professor in California has pleaded no contest to an allegation that he took cell phone pictures up the skirt of a colleague. The victim of the incident, however, expressed surprise that her college's Title IX procedures seemed to be meant to protect the university, rather than her interests.
It's a persistent myth that underlies many of the most heated discussions surrounding Title IX law.
Professor Pleads No Contest to Criminal Invasion of Privacy
On May 2, 2018, a pair of psychology professors at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo – one male and one female – ran into each other in the mailroom. After some small talk, she turned her back on him as she examined a piece of mail, and then felt something touch her ankle. When she looked down, she saw his phone pointing up her skirt, taking pictures.
Over a year later, the male professor has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of California Penal Code 647(j) – California's “Peeping Tom law,” which forbids taking pictures of someone else's undergarments for sexual gratification.
By pleading no contest, the professor will be sanctioned for breaking the law but does not admit guilt. He will be put on five years of probation but will continue to teach at the college.
Victim Chastises School in Belief that Title IX Protects Her
At the sentencing hearing, the victim of the incident read a victim impact statement in which she emphasized her feeling of violation. She also criticized the school for failing to advocate on her behalf or support her through such a difficult time.
“I trusted Cal Poly to protect me,” she said, “and it failed to do so.”
Pointing to the school's Title IX policy that forbids both sides from discussing an ongoing sexual misconduct investigation, the professor claimed that she could not adequately explain to her students why she was absent. She called the policy a “gag order.”
“As current procedures stand,” she read, “you do more to protect him, and the reputation of the university, than you do for victims,” adding that the school was “using Title IX to limit my speech and save their face.”
This is What Happens When You Tie Federal Funding to Compliance
This idea that Title IX is supposed to require schools to support alleged sexual assault victims completely overlooks the very foreseeable problems that come with tying federal funding to Title IX compliance. Simply put, schools rely heavily on federal funding. Threatening to strip it away for failing to comply with Title IX's edicts is tantamount to “questioning” a suspect by threatening to kill them – they will do and say whatever it takes to make the threat go away.
The criticism that Title IX law seems to be there to protect the school is misplaced: Schools use Title IX as a way to ensure they continue receiving federal funds, and they will say or do whatever it takes to keep the funding flowing.
Title IX Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento strives to help people accused of Title IX violations fight against a school system that is intent on preserving its own interests. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.