August 13, 2007
Prosecutor Takes Corporate Liability Posture In University Setting
Holding university officials responsible for alleged crimes in relation to the death of a student and the hospitalization of another, may be a new extension taken of vicarious criminal liability. A local prosecutor in Mercer County, New Jersey has brought charges against school officials, including the dean of students, at Rider University for activities related to the death of a student. (see Fox News here) The charges alleged are for a crime called "aggravated hazing." The school has adopted a new policy concerning matters of this nature.
This prosecution raises important issues for those in a university setting. Is it necessary for colleges and universities to establish corporate compliance programs to provide safeguards against criminal activity. When the system fails will prosecutors be moving to charge the individuals who might fit the category of "responsible corporate officers" and will the next step be to charge the university or college as an entity. See also Higher Education law prof blog.
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