Sunday, January 29, 2012

UMass Code of Student Conduct Might Have Been the End of Maura's Nursing Career


American universities have found a way to skirt the court system and basically double-charge students when they commit a crime. Not only will they face fines and possible jail, but, even if the charges are dismissed in a court of law, they might still be kicked out of school. Yeah. Because denying the kid a college degree will really help them from committing more crimes.

Anyway, the code of conduct at UMass is just an absurd example of this.

Here's an except (provided by an astute reader):

I.Preface
E.Students may be accountable to both civil authorities and to the University for acts which constitute violations
of law and of the CSC. Disciplinary action at the University will normally proceed during the pendency of criminal
proceedings and will not be subject to challenge on the ground that criminal charges involving the same incident have
been dismissed or reduced. When a student has been charged by a civil authority for a violation of law, the University
will neither request nor agree to special consideration for the student solely because of his or her status as a student.
II.REGULATIONS FOR STUDENT CONDUCT AND SCHOLARSHIP
2.Representing one's self as another person with or without that person's permission, or representing one's self improperly,
and not by error, as any other member of the community.
6.Unauthorized accessing of the records of any individual, whether such access is obtained through paper records, computer files
or systems, where such information is protected by the University regulations concerning privacy and confidentiality.
Looks like Maura's dream to be a nurse wasn't going to happen. If she did end up committing suicide, UMass should own up to some culpability.

Everyone deserves a second chance.

27 comments:

  1. For someone unschooled in crime she wisely kept the ammounts stolen under an amount a person might notice in the turmoil of school and life; that is, it sure seems like she knew what she was doing, but, alas, the girl caught on after all and Maura was found out.

    If I were the girl in question I would not want her to continue on; and I am wondering what patient wants a nurse who might be after their credit card?

    John Avellar

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  2. The main problem with all the speculation surrounding what she might or might not have done centers around not really knowing what would have happened to her. I will tell you that just because the university has a code does not mean someone will be kicked out of school. They would consider the seriousness of the infraction as well as talk to the other student. As for criminal charges, she did not know that either. Again, she seems to do things before she actually knows the outcome.
    I think it is easy to say that she could have just asked for help. If I were asking my friends for money for food, I would know they probably would be wondering about my parents and why I do not get help from them. Then you have the credit card allegations and that is something I am sure she probably did not want her friends to know about.
    When it comes to evidence there is one other thing I think about when it comes to the timeline. It seems like she gets very little sleep the weekend she goes missing. She is out with her father, going to party, driving, calling boyfriend, working. Somewhere in all of this she finds time to pack up her belongings. I just wonder when she did it?
    All my questions are speculation. I believe she is a very confident happy person that knows what she is doing. I do not believe she was suicidal either. But that is opinion and that is all it is. I even watch the ID program and think she probably had a thick New England accent like her dad. Her friends do not seem to sound as accented, at least to me.
    I thought the boyfriend's mother put it best: They want to believe she is alive too, but after such a long time in their hearts they have to come to accept that she might be gone for good. I would say that about sums up this sad missing persons case.

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  3. Mr Renner,
    I wholeheartedly concur with your comments.

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  4. "found a way to skirt the court system and basically double-charge students when they commit a crime."

    With all due respect, "personal conduct policies" aren't really any different from dissociating yourself from someone you don't like because of their actions.

    And on the quote "and will not be subject to challenge on the ground that criminal charges involving the same incident have
    been dismissed or reduced," this goes with the idea that "not guilty" or "case dismissed" does not mean "innocent," only that there is not a decision to pursue legal charges, and that the "court of public opinion" has a right to think what they want. Joe Paterno committed no crime, but was forced out by his board of trustees due to the controversy of the situation; Ben Roethlisberger was suspended by the NFL even though his criminal case never made it to trial.

    That said, there are degrees of misconduct, and a theft of relatively small magnitude doesn't warrant a dismissal in my mind, especially if the police intended to drop the charges. This is not as severe as the Johnathan Perkins case at UVA, for instance (and it appears he was still able to graduate and find a legal job, although it's unclear if he will be allowed to take the bar.)

    Both professional admission boards and university conduct policies are sometimes rife with controversy over enforcement of rules.

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  5. I wanted to add that I think Mr. Renner has done a fine job with the blog. You have so many theories. First, Forcier with his ex-wife's claim and when you remember she had a full tank of gas, it makes sense. Then there is the school bus driver, who shows up kind of eliminating Mr. Forcier because he gets there so quickly after the accident. Then you have Maura herself who does things like drinking while driving that make you scratch your head. It could be as simple as a runaway that turned into a kidnapping. The very first time I heard about the case, I thought it was the school bus driver, only because when you watch his eyes in the ID program he looks down and to the right, accessing his creative part of the brain. He even says I guess. The boyfriend looks down and to the left or up and to the left because he remembering, telling the truth. But I know that is very thin and maybe he was left-handed so it would be reversed. That was my first impression, and it changed as I read your blog and learned more. Sometimes I assume too much like that Fred was going to pay cash for Maura's car.

    I know sometimes I ask stupid questions. Hopefully you will allow me to ask one more:

    When Fred and Maura went used car shopping for her car, did the used car dealer's financing company run her credit?

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    Replies
    1. Good question, but I don't think she was buying the car. Her dad was buying it.

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  6. Well, the one caveat I can put forth is that it states disciplinary action will USUALLY (emphasis mine) proceed during the pendency of criminal proceedings. Your prior post stated that she was not, in fact, charged, but rather, that they would agree not to bring forth charges as long as she kept her nose clean until just prior to her disappearance. So, she may not have necessarily been facing any form of discipline from the school, as it does not clearly state that committing a crime brings forth charges, but rather, being charged with a crime usually begins the school action. That being said, I do think this would be the precise reason she would run from a DUI and avoid the SBD at the accident scene.....a DUI would have nullified her deal with LE and she would have the new charge to deal with as well...PLUS the school's disciplinary action on both charges.

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    1. She was charged. But the charges would have been dismissed after three months.

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    2. I apologize. That changes things dramatically. She was charged with, I am assuming, either fraud or theft by deception, or identity theft. Regardless of the specific charge, the underlying offense of credit card fraud is a felony regardless of which heading they put it under. Even though they agreed to dismiss the charges after three months, sheerly by being arrested and indicted, the charge would then require the prosecutor to "nolle prosequi" or dismiss the charges in a formal hearing. Further, the arrest itself would need to be sealed and/or expunged, ideally expunged, in order for it not to show up in any background checks she would be subjected to. Note: Once the charge was expunged, it would legally be a non-issue. All this could be in vain, as well, given that she faced consequences frm the school just for the arrest....the nolle prosequi is irrelevant to the school's ramifications, as stated in their handbook. Very important inf you uncovered.

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    3. 12:30 PM said

      a DUI would have nullified her deal with LE and she would have the new charge to deal with as well...PLUS the school's disciplinary action on both charges.

      To this I say, yes. Couple that with the lame excuse for taking off from school, (no death in the family), and she would have been caught in another dishonorable behaviour.

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    4. Perhaps a silly question, but I don't know.

      Is there a difference between a felon and a convicted felon, and if so by what means? Would she be cleard of a felony if not convicted? Or does it stay there as some kind of concideration in future matters?

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    5. Even if the charges were dropped/dismissed, the arrest itself will show up, with no judgment entered...no final disposition of the case. She would need to file an expungement to have the charge stripped from her record, which one can do immediately upon the charges being dropped/ nolle prosequi (decline to prosecute).

      It's not a difficult process. It's very commonly done....however, we're she convicted of the felony....that's a whole 'mother ball game. In SOME cases, you can still expunge the charge, depending on a variety of factors (for example, in IL, you can easily expunge a first time offenders drug possession charge, but violent offenses are not expungeable.)

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  7. Perhaps MM just perceived that it would be academic "curtains" for her after the pizza incident and the car crash with dad's car. Probably she would have been rescued from any potential dismissal because of her athletic prowess. Maybe she just needed some down time to sort thru it all and then decided to start a new life. If that't the case, who could blame her?

    Having just watched the Michelle Whitaker episode of "Disappeared" I'd say anything is possible:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaekYICUFls

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    1. "Probably she would have been rescued from any potential dismissal because of her athletic prowess."

      Preferential treatment in discipline or academics (the latter of which was never an issue for her) tends to be minimal for sports like cross country and track, i.e. not high profile sports the way football and basketball.

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    2. Maura's wreck with her father's car didn't result in any criminal charges. She was cited for a driving infraction. would not have any bearing on her credit card issue.

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  8. Reality is, when applying for a nursing license after graduation, she wouldn't have gotten one because of the crime also nor would she be eligible to work in any hospital, or human services field, as they all require squeaky clean BCI's.

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    1. It is an easily expunged charge, for a first time offender. She would very likely have been offered a diversion program, such as TASC or Drug Court or even some types of probation, where the charge would be dismissed upon successful completion of a court-ordered and mandated program (I.e., rehab, outpatient or otherwise, counseling, random drug drops, etc.) but it should be noted that all of these would require not only her admission of an addiction problem (alcohol or bulimia both would be acceptable), but also would require her to likely be put on a type of academic probation, perhaps lose scholarships and/or grants, and definitely, IMO, fall behind in school by a semester due to the time of most diversion programs....a year at minimum. Just my two cents as I work in this field.

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    2. So then, MM would already know this especially if it is true that she had done this before at west point.
      She somehow got into the nursing program earlier than the norm, and supposedly with the coach that she stayed with in the spring or summer of 2003.

      She quit the track team however, so she could devote herself to her studies.

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    3. For it to effect your Nursing license you have to actually be "convicted", not just arrested or charged
      LateNightRN

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  9. Has anyone found out why she either left or got asked to leave West Point? I think that's important.


    People do deserve second chances, but from what i understand.. this was not her first time stealing someone's credit card numbers.

    I think it's unfair for people close to her to only say the good things about her. I think also pointing out her flaws, drinking... driving... stealing credit cards...are just as important in this case.

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    Replies
    1. West Point: http://mauramurray.blogspot.com/2011/11/maura-asked-to-leave-west-point.html

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  10. Common sense tells me Maura foolishly commit suicide back in those woods. She got out of that broken down car, turned down help, and started running. At some point,(who knows how far she ran) she turned into those cold dark woods, walked until she found a suitable spot and sat down. Anybody know what she had on when she took off?

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    Replies
    1. Clothes: "Possibly wearing a dark colored coat and jeans, carrying a backpack." (https://www.findthemissing.org/cases/54)

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    2. Anyone know the shoes she was wearing? Running shoes or hiking boots could take a girl like Maura a long way. If she was wearing heels or flats, or Uggs, say, she wouldn't be thinking of going far on foot.

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  11. Everyone deserves a second chance.

    This may have been her second chance.

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  12. What a school can do to you as a punishment, and what they will do to you are two different things. Working as a Campus Police Officer (Not at Umass) I can tell you that with this incident, if it were a first/second offense, she wouldnt have been removed from the school, at least not permanently. I think the embarassment factor of people whom she knew/loved finding out about yet another screw up was causing much of her issues.

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  13. My personal opinion is this. With all of this informationn coming out about the credit card fraud and what not, things are making a little more sense. While I understand that LE not releasing information often is for a good reason (i.e. not compromising an ongoing investigation) painting an obviously troubled girl out to be happy go-lucky is not a very good idea. The troubles she was experiencing obviously in some way contributed to her disappearance, and painting a more realistic portrait of this girl may jog someones memory. I think that the fact that her charges would be dropped if she maintained good behavior is very significant. If she was, in fact, drinking and driving when she crashed the second time, she obviously would not want to receive a dui and fled the scene. Perhaps she just wandered off and succumbed to the elements.

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