Patty O'Toole: Not Guilty

Last Thursday, Patty O'Toole, the former dean of students at Notre Dame College, sat in Judge Michael Donnelly's court room, lackadaisically chatting with her sister about their father's frozen water pipes and the color of her sister's jeans. In a few hours, her fate would be decided on two charges that she failed to report a felony, yet she looked wholly unconcerned. The tale began in the fall of 2005 at the South Euclid college ["Hush," May 17, 2006]. Two students came to the dean of students alleging that they'd been sexually assaulted, but begged her not to tell anyone. For two months, O'Toole complied. But under federal law, any educator with knowledge of an assault on campus must contact police immediately. Prosecutors contend that because O'Toole failed to notify the cops, at least three other women were assaulted by the same guy. Defense lawyer Edward Heffernan downplayed the incidents, alleging that they weren't actually sexual assaults, but merely minor incidents involving hormonally charged students. The jury apparently bought it. On Friday, it ruled O'Toole not guilty. — Rebecca Meiser