Case #628

DATE: May 23, 2012
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Y.Z.


Hearing Date(s): March 28, 2012, April 5, 2012

Panel Members:
Ms. Rodica David, Chair
Prof. Graeme Hirst, Faculty Member
Ms. Susan Mazzatto, Student Member


Appearances:
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Mr. Y.Z., the Student

Mr. Michael Nicholson, Associate Registrar

Dr. Kristi Gourlay, Office of Student Academic Integrity

Prof. Don Dewees, Dean's Designate

In Attendance:
Ms. Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(a) of Code – forged documents – purchased and submitted a forged medical certificate and a physician’s letter to defer an exam; also charged with aiding or abetting to falsify evidence – Student attempted to give evidence in his closing argument; Panel allowed it – Student argued that he should not be found guilty because the charges were all the subject matter of one single charge of forging his petition and the University could not prove that his petition was falsified as he was actually ill – s. B.i.1(a) referred to “any document” implying that each document could be a subject of a separate charge – Student pleaded guilty to falsifying the documents and pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting – the commercial provider left a voicemail to falsify evidence by pretending to be a doctor’s assistant – Student knew or ought to have known that the provider would take action – finding of guilt – premeditated and egregious – wasted University resources – there can be no excuse for submitting false documents – importance of deterrence – mitigating factors – grade assignment of zero for course; four-year suspension; four-year notation on transcript; report to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.1(a) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted a forged medical certificate and a physician’s letter to defer an exam and aided or abetted another person in falsifying evidence. The Student attempted to give evidence in his closing argument, and the Panel allowed it. The Student argued that the charges relating to forging a medical certificate and a physician’s letter should have been the subject matter of a single charge of forging the petition. The Student further argued that because it could not be proven that the petition itself was false as he was actually ill, he should not be found guilty. The Panel rejected this argument because “any document” in s.B.i.1(a) of the Code must be interpreted to mean that each document could be the subject of a separate charge. The Panel also noted that the Student pleaded guilty to the charges without objection until his closing argument. As to the charge relating to aiding and abetting, the Student pleaded not guilty. The Student had purchased the medical certificate and the letter from a commercial provider through internet. When the Student was under investigation, he contacted the service provider who assured him that “he would take care of it.” The provider left a voicemail on the Associate Registrar’s phone purporting to be the doctor’s assistant. Although the Student claimed that he did not know that the provider would do such a thing and thus he did not knowingly aid and abet, the Panel stated that it was immaterial whether the Student knew the exact method by which the provider would “take care of it.” The Panel found that the Student knew or ought to have known that the provider would take some actions to confirm the authenticity of the false evidence. The Panel found the Student guilty of all charges under s. B.i.1(a). The Panel stated that the Student’s conduct was premeditated and egregious and required the University to spend considerable resources on an investigation. Also, the Panel found that it was not a mitigating factor that the Student chose to purchase the certificate and the letter after speaking with his family physician, because he thought that he would not be able to get a medical certificate in time. The Panel stated that there could be no excuses for submitting false documents. The Panel expressed its concern about the availability of this type of commercial enterprise and emphasized the importance of deterrence. The Panel also stated that the Student, instead of expressing remorse, tried to excuse his misconduct. However, the Panel recognized that there were mitigating factors: (a) he pleaded guilty to two of the charges, (b) he had no previous convictions, (c) the University failed to establish that he was not actually ill, and (d) all three offences related to the one transaction. The Panel also noted that the Student had enough credits to graduate and his ability to graduate had been deferred by one and a half years as a result of the charges. The University was seeking a five-year suspension and a six-year notation. However, in consideration of these mitigating factors, the Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the course; a four-year suspension; a four-year notation on the Student’s transcript; and a report be issued to the Provost.