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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
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Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Our son who is attending UC Davis has been accused of a "prank"

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Our son who is attending UC Davis has been accused of a "prank" by a girl who lives across the hall from him in the dorm. Although he was tangentially involved (the prank had several parts, one student not my son took unauthorized photos of her then altered them sexually and sent them to another student and my son who showed her the photo. The second event was another student logging in to her phone without permission, then a second student starting a facebook post on her page and my son was handed the phone and finalized it and hit the post button. He then showed her the post. Although this student seemed "annoyed" she still laughed about all of this and seemed to be aware of it. When my son came back from a long weekend to the university he tried to speak to her and she was giving him the silent treatment so he said "why are you being such a bitch". Apparently while he was gone for the weekend there were more unsolicited photos taken of her which had nothing to do with Landen our son.

Judicial affairs acknowledged there were 6 boys involved and that Landen's involvement was limited and tangential at best. But they are recommending terminating his housing contract. He's a freshman with A+'s in all of his classes, calculus 2, Ancient Greek, ECS computer programming and EEC Electrical Engineering. He's always been perfectly behaved and although I'm certain he participated at the tail end of these events (with the exception of calling her a bitch which is totally unacceptable) he's bearing the brunt of this with one other student (who is actually responsible for the altered photographs)

Judicial affairs has turned this over to the Housing Director to hear our appeal and hopefully keep his housing intact. If she doesn't I think we may need a lawyer becuase two of the boys who were involved in the Facebook post are being allowed to stay and it's because the "victim" the girl in question retracted her story and said they were "witnesses" to the event, not the ones who logged in to her phone.

We have been unable to get any further details from the judicial affairs about why the boys who did this are being let off the hook.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, discipline of students is an internal matter of the school. The recourse the student has is filing an appeal through the school's appeal process. If the housing director is the last step, then her decision would be final so using an attorney at this point if your son wants to stay in the dorm would be the best move on your part. The attorney can make the legal arguments regarding the contract of housing and how your son's conduct did not rise to the level of breaching the housing agreement if he was not involved in the major events with this girl and in fact was not even at school when many of them occurred according to what you are saying above.

If you use the attorney and lose, then you can still possibly be lined up for a breach of contract suit against the school for breaching their housing contract with your son without good cause since he was not really involved in the harassing behavior with the exception of the minor part as you said.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The housing contract language for "prank" is overly broad. We already prepared the appeal and sent it in without an attorney, which is why I'm panicking. They do, however, allow us to have a "hearing" if the appeal doesn't go our way.


The hearing is where I was hoping to use an attorney.


BTW: I'm the woman responsible for the airline passengers' bill of rights passed by Congress and 28 rules promulgated by the DOT. I'm trying not to go "all advocate" on them, but our sons behavior doesn't rise to the level of anything but teasing and irritation. We would rather he didn't say what he said, and he should not have finalized the Facebook post...but he should NOT bear the brunt of the punishment when others were clearly more involved and generating the events.


How could it be breach of contract if they have such a broad definition of "prank" in their contract?


THe other issue is that the judicial affairs guy called three boys in including our son and our son just flat told him what he did and said he would accept any punishment. But the judicial affairs guy never told him what the possible consequences were before he began asking Landen questions. Does this matter?

Thank you for your response.

It all depends on the actual amount of participation your son had in this prank as to whether or not the prank rises to the level to warrant eviction from the premises. While the definition may be broad, the school still has to be reasonable in the punishment and cannot be arbitrary and capricious, which would become the issue.

Unfortunately, this was not a criminal matter so the judicial affairs officer did not have to advice him of the consequences before asking him questions.

At this point since you sent in the appeal and you still have one administrative appeal left, you should be at least arranging for an attorney to pursue the next appeal in the event that housing does not reverse the removal, which in these cases lately with the overreaction to every day interaction between people being taken for something wrong or improper, is likely that housing will just rubber stamp the previous decision and a hearing would be needed to show your son's involvement was minimal compared to the involvement of others.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There were three events. Landen's roommate took an unauthorized photo of the female and then altered it to look like she had a penis in her mouth. He then sent the photo to a few boys including my son. My son showed her the altered photo on his phone and then deleted it.


The second event was three boys in the lounge. One boy found her phone, logged in with her password, logged on to her facebook account (I would think this is a criminal act) then he handed the phone to the second boy who started a facebook post that said "I like pinot noir...then he handed the phone to my son who typed "in my bum bum" and hit the post key.


There were other photos taken that were not related to my son, but she got irritated about the constant photo taking. He wasn't even at the school when this happened, and he did not know she had soured. When he asked her what was wrong she ignored him and gave him the silent treatment. He persisted, becomming frustrated and said "why are you being such a bitch".


He felt that he was "teasing" her. She apparently said many very sexual things to the boys earlier in the year which gave him a level of comfort with her that clearly he should not have had.


So maybe you can tell me if this rises to the level to warrant eviction. And can you tell me what type of attorney I should speak to? I'm not going to have long to deal with it. We didn't even know about this until last Wednesday. Our son has a disability so we got letters from Department of Rehabilitation and others on his behalf supporting that he stay in the dorms.


If she determines that he has to move tomorrow, we have three days to have the hearing. I have to move quickly.

Thank you for your response.

While your son should not have posted on the facebook as he did not access it and did not do any of the things such as posting pictures or sending pictures around, it certainly does not sound like it rises to the level of what the other actors in the matter did.

You would need a general litigation or educational law attorney to assist you with this matter.
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