THE SUPREME COURT (SC) sanctioned a lawyer in connection with an anonymous complaint filed against him in 2002 for sexually harassing students at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City.
In its 11-page resolution dated April 10 and made available to the media Tuesday, the High Court through Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr. said “Atty. Cresencio P. Co Untian Jr. is suspended from the practice of law for five years and 10 years from teaching law in any school effective upon the finality of this resolution
“The court also issued a stern warning that repetition of the same or similar act “will be dealt with more severely,” it said.
The complaint detailed acts of sexual harassment complaints by three law students. The first student claimed unwelcome advances made by Untian who expressed an amorous interest in sending her flowers through another law student. The student said that while she was never sexually assaulted the advances made her feel degraded as she could not easily ignore Untian for fear of reprisal.
A second complainant said Untian showed her a photo of a naked woman who looked like her and repeatedly teased her about it in front of other law students.
The third law student recounted that in one of her recitations in class, she clarified a question asked her by Untian by asking “Sir, come again?” to which Untian retorted “What? You want me to come again? I have not come the first time and don’t you know that it took me five minutes to come, and you want me to come again?”
In suspending Untian, the High Court said that as officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community.
“It is disappointing that respondent fails to acknowledge the consequences of his actions and disregard the hurt not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or keeping a mistress but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the impression that he is flouting those moral standards,” the tribunal said.(By Benjamin Pulta)
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