Case #713

DATE: March 28, 2014

PARTIES: University of Toronto v A.K.
Hearing Date(s): October 22, 2013
Panel Members:
Julie Rosenthal, Chair
Maria Rozakis-Adcock, Faculty Member
Afshin Ameri, Student Member
Appearances:
Tina Lie, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Damon Chevrier, Registrar, St. Michael’s College
Janice Patterson, Legal Assistant, Palaire Roland Barristers
In Attendance:
Kristi Gourlay, Manager of Office of Academic Integrity, Faculty of Arts and Science
Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Sinéad Cutt, Administrative Assistant, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Not In Attendance:
The Student
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(a) and B.i.3(b) of the Code – falsified documents and documents with falsified information – academic accommodation sought – document purporting to be doctor’s medical certificate – personal statement misrepresenting illness – Student did not attend hearing – Student given reasonable notice of Hearing – misrepresentations in the letter fell under s. B.i.1(a) as letter was not forged, rather it contained falsified information finding of guilt – grade of zero in courses at issue; five-year suspension; recommendation that the Student be expelled; report to Provost for publication
The Trial Division of the Tribunal held a hearing on October 22, 2013 to consider charges brought by the University against the Student under the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. The Student did not attend the hearing but the University produced an affidavit establishing that the Student had received reasonable notice. The Tribunal determined that it was appropriate to proceed.
Student charged with six offences under s. B.i.1(a) and, in the alternative, one charge under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the student had falsified several documents, namely one personal statement and five University of Toronto Student Medical Certificates, in support of a request for academic accommodation.
The University called one witness, the Registrar at St. Michael’s College. The Witness explained that he had received a petition form and supporting letter, required documents to obtain accommodation, to defer a final exam and further defer two exams for which a deferral had already been granted from the Student. The documents described the Student’s illness and were signed by a doctor. The Witness reviewed and forwarded the documents to the central office of the Faculty of Arts and Science who refused the Student’s petition as the dates of the exams were “unreasonably apart.” The Witness received a petition for appeal from the Student five months later consisting of a completed petition form, an Absent Declaration letter and several University of Toronto Student Medical Certificates, four signed by a doctor in Toronto and one by doctor in New York. The Witness noticed inconsistencies between the petition and appeal documents with the number of physicians visited, dates the Medical Certificates were signed and language and writing style used by the doctors. The Witness was suspicious and researched both doctors who had allegedly signed the certificates. He found that the Toronto doctor did not exist and the New York doctor had never met the Student. The Witness emailed the Student expressing his belief that the certificates were “not legitimate.” The Panel accepted the Witness’ evidence as to the information obtained as a result of his investigation but attached no weight to his personal views as to whether the certificates were falsified.
The Panel found that the five medical certificates were falsified within the meaning of s. B.i.1(a) of the Code and that the Student knowingly engaged in a form of fraud or misrepresentation contrary to s. B.i.3(b) of the Code in submitting the “Absent Declaration letter.” The Panel noted that the misrepresentations included the number of times he had seen a physician and attaching certificates with falsified information. The University argued that the misrepresentations in the letter fell under s. B.i.1(a) however the letter itself was not forged, rather the information it contained was falsified.
The University sought a penalty including a grade of zero in the three courses, a recommendation of expulsion, a suspension of five years and that the matter be reported to the Provost. The Panel looked to the principles and factors described in University of Toronto and Mr. C. (November 5, 1976/77-3) in considering the appropriate penalty. Little was known about the Student’s character, save that he did not appear at the hearing and showed no signs of remorse. While it was the Student’s first offence it was very serious and the Panel was not aware of any extenuating circumstances. The Panel also weighed the detriment to the University and the need to deter others from committing the same offence. The Panel considered several cases in which the penalty for forging medical documents was expulsion. There were some forgery cases in which a five year suspension was imposed, but the Panel noted that in those cases the students had admitted their guilt.
The Panel assigned a grade of zero in the three courses at issue, recommended that the Student be expelled from the University, imposed a five-year suspension and ordered that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.