This school year marks eight years since a controversial sexual assault case against the University of New Mexico Hospital.

UNMH was the site of a 2009 sexual assault case that involved resident doctors that ended in the accuser being terminated from her position. The case went to trial for a second time this month.

Cynthia Herald was the victim of a sexual assault incident when she was a resident doctor at UNMH. Herald reported the incident to her superiors, which led to frustrations in trying to find justice for her attacker. The allegations resulted in Herald’s unemployment and expulsion from her residency program.



Herald’s supervisors that were responsible for reporting the incident pressed her for excessive information pertaining to the case. According to NM Political Report, Herald’s supervisors continued to schedule her and her attack her together even after Herald reported the incident.

This situation may remind the UNM community of the changes the University is trying to make in an effort to spread awareness about sexual harassment and assault.

The 2017 school year marked the beginning of mandatory The Grey Area training held by the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center at the University of New Mexico.

According to the LoboRESPECT website, this training focuses on the prevention of sexual harassment and misconduct and the policies and procedures regarding Title IX complaints.

Title IX is a national law that protects individuals from sexual discrimination in educational programs — including sexual harassment and sexual violence.

According to LoboRESPECT’s Title IX policies, “A student who violates the Student Code of Conduct can receive a sanction ranging from mandatory training or probation to a suspension or expulsion from the University.”

The residency program director supervising Herald at the time of her incident was physician John Wills, who claimed to have not reported the incident at the time because Herald did not want him to, and Wills claimed that he wanted to protect everyone’s due process rights, according to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Today, students can confidentially report sexual harassment and sexual violence through LoboRESPECT, the Women’s Resource Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center. Anyone who is a victim of sexual misconduct, or who wants to help someone who is, can discuss options without “ringing the bell,” said LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center Director Lisa Lindquist.

“The Grey Area” training can provide information and confidence for students who are seeking resources to help them through an incident, or for those looking to provide support for others.

“The Grey Area” training seeks to inform students about reporting procedures for such incidents, and to educate students on who they can confide in and who is required by policy to pursue the incident with further reporting.

“(The training) does cover what mandatory reporting is in the University,” Lindquist said. “Most students are not considered mandatory reporters unless they are in occupations with titles like resident advisor, security, etc. — otherwise, the general student population does not have an obligation to report.”

This training attempts to provide a tool for preventing sexual assault — a problem that is prevalent on college campuses across the country. “The Grey Area” training calls attention to these problems within the University.

Through the mandatory “The Grey Area” training sessions, students may find clarity in knowing UNM’s policies regarding sexual assault, confidentiality and precautions taken to avoid backlash. The training aims to help prevent sexual misconduct and to strengthen the safety of this campus and therefore the safety felt by the students.


Rebecca Brusseau is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers the LGBTQ community. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @r_brusseau.