WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Not reporting sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking or a dating violence incident is now against the law in the state of Texas if you are employed by any of the state’s universities.
In June of 2019, the Texas regular legislative session ended with Gov. Greg Abbott signing more than 1,300 bills into law, one of which was Senate Bill 212.
“It makes reporting of certain offenses such as sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment, things like that mandatory of all university employees,” Midwestern State University Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Keith Lamb said.
First Step Executive Director Michelle Turnbow said not reporting sexual misconduct is an issue nationwide.
“It’s huge and I think it’s one of the things I like seeing us changing that for the victims,” Turnbow said. “Being able to hold those accountable for their actions. Sexual assault is not getting reported.”
Turnbow said she believes reporting it is a way to stop offenders from doing it again.
“We’ll be able to let the university and even your community know that we do have a problem,” Turnbow said. “That we already know we have but some are not aware of. I think it will also hold those accountable so that we can get, you know one person that doesn’t report it you can assure he’s going to victimize somebody else.”
If you are a university employee and don’t report it, the penalty could be severe.
“If an employee becomes aware of one of these offenses through the scope of their employment, through their jobs and they fail to report it, it is a Class B misdemeanor,” Lamb said. “If it is found that the employee deliberately failed to report it, then it could be a Class A misdemeanor.”
With this new law in place, the hope is to protect victims and keep campuses safe.
Lamb also said this bill won’t change how MSU’s Title IX department handles these cases. The only thing that may change is an increase in reports.