Oro lawyer facing 15-year suspension

A FORMER law professor of Xavier University is facing a total of 15-year suspension from practicing law and teaching law for sexually harassing three of his students in 2002.

The Supreme Court (SC), in an 11-page resolution promulgated last April 10, said lawyer Cresencio Co Untian Jr. is suspended from the practice of law for 5 years and another 10 years from teaching law in any school. It also issued a stern warning that a repetition of the same act will be dealth with more severely.

In 2002, an anonymous complaint reached the court requesting to investigate the alleged sexual harassment that Untian committed.

Untian allegedly sent flowers and love notes to one student, while another instance had him showing a photo of a naked woman who resembled the student's face.

Another student complained of becoming "subject of sexually charged language" while in class.

The Court said that Untian substantially admitted the accusations against him, but provided justifications for his actions.

But the Court ruled that Untian created a hostile and offensive environment "which has no place in a learning institution."

"What makes the respondent's act of sexual harassment even more reprehensible is the fact that he is both a professor and a member of the legal profession," the court said.

It adds, lawyers carry the burden of living up to the ethical standards of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

"Clearly, respondent abused the power and authority he possessed over the complainants," it said.

"Those privileged to practice the legal profession are expected to maintain not only a high standard of legal proficiency, but also of morality considering that they are always under the watchful public eye scrutinizing them both in their public and private lives," it added.

In a previous article of SunStar Cagayan de Oro published in 2015, Untian is identified as an accountancy teacher at Xavier University and author of textbooks on taxation.


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