Enacted last year, Texas Senate passed Bill 212 now outlines new reporting requirements for sex crimes.
Beginning January 1 of this year, any employee of a Texas university is subject to criminal charges and immediate termination if they fail to report sex crime incidents to the proper authorities.
This is not the first attempt at tightening the reigns on campus sexual violence, but experts say this piece of legislation puts Texas at the forefront of curbing sexual violence on the nation’s college compuses.
Federal Statute “Title IX” Wasn’t Enough for Texans
The Office of Civil Rights under the US Department of Education oversees the enforcement of a swath of federal education amendments enacted in 1972. One of them is known as Title IX.
Title IX primarily prohibits any federally funded education program or activity from discriminating against people based on sex. The law does not, however, include protection of any member of a campus community who has been involved in any of the following:
- Sex or pregnancy discrimination
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual assault
- Sexual misconduct
- Interpersonal violence (including dating and domestic)
The inherent problem is this federal legislation it that it was written so broadly that it allows for incidents to fall through the cracks. The lack of victim support during a string of sexual assaults at Baylor University in Waco in 2016 was the final straw for Texas legislators.
Since then, we’ve seen a number of bills (including SB 576) passed to confront campus sexual violence head-on. Texas Senate Bill 212 is the lastest (and appears to be the strongest) one so far, directly addressing the gap in reporting.
Texas Senate Bill 212 Helps Close the Federal Reporting Gap
Texas Senate Bill 212 outlines specific reporting requirements for all employees of educational institutions instead of just a handful. The law says those who fail to report incidents of sexual harassment, assault, stalking, or dating violence will face criminal and employment repercussions.
In order to maintain the privacy and protection of victims according to federal law, SB 212 does exempt victims themselves and other designated personnel (counselors and health workers) from reporting identifying information.
Reporting Requirements and Penalties for SB 212 Noncompliance
Individual employees and institutions each have a separate set of reporting requirements, and thus, an entirely different set of penalties in cases of noncompliance.
Employee Reporting Requirements
Individuals who are found in violation of SB 212 may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor if they have simply not reported a sex crime to the proper authorities. When convicted, penalties include up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
If they are found to have intentionally concealed (or attempt to conceal) an incident, then the charge may be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor. Conviction of this greater charge doubles your penalties to 1 year and $4,000 respectively.
In either case, these penalties are a small price to pay for non-reporting when for employees on a public university payroll. Here are the penalties the institution as a whole will face:
Institutional Reporting Requirements
What’s starkly different about new institutional reporting can be summarized in two points:
- Every university’s Title IX coordinator must now provide summary reports for university presidents routinely in order to address claims of high-ranking administrators’ lack of knowledge.
- Institutions must now publish via university websites non-identifying information regarding all sex crimes and scandals involving their students and employees every fall and spring semester – not just incidents on the university property.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is slated to submit in January 2021 a list of universities not complying with SB 212 reporting requirements. Those on the list may be liable for fines up to $2,000,000.
If you are an employee of a Texas university or college, be aware of your personal reporting requirements and your rights. Questions about the new sex crimes reporting law? Reach out!