In a recent lawsuit leveled against Eastern Michigan University, 11 women alleged the administration and two fraternities covered up reports of sexual assault from two male students. In its response to the lawsuit, the University denied having information about the assaults on which it could act: “By choosing to not report their assaults to the University and/or not to participate in any proceedings against their assailants,” the University stated in its response, “Plaintiffs did not provide the University any opportunity to respond or to help.”
Accusations Against EMU
The lawsuit against EMU made numerous allegations, and the school has responded:
- Melody Werner, former Title IX coordinator, was accused of responding to a victim's complaint by saying, “it's not worth reporting.” The school denied this and said Werner consulted the victim to see if she wanted to speak with police.
- The University allegedly retaliated against accusers by holding up their transcripts for higher education. The school reported this was a clerical error that has since been corrected.
- The EMU police chief was allegedly informed of an assault by his family who was in an EMU fraternity. The school denied he received such information and stated that, while the fraternity member was his ex-sister-in-law's son, the relationship was rather removed.
Ultimately, the lawsuit accuses EMU of violating the women's Title IX and civil rights, discrimination, negligence, and other charges. It seeks a jury trial and more than $75,000 in damages.
Students Under Fire
The lawsuit sites police investigations into 30 rapes at EMU between 2015-2020 as evidence of neglect on the part of the school. In fact, multiple former students have been criminally charged in the last year for their alleged involvement in sexual assault's on the school's campus. In a separate investigation, the Detroit Free Press found that the school had a Title IX report in 2018 claiming that a student, Dustyn Durbin, assaulted multiple woman; he is now facing 13 charges for reported assaults on nine women. When asked about the report, the school said they could not act because the reports were anonymous.
This calls attention to the difference between accusations of neglect leveled against the University and accusations of wrongdoing brought against the students. In the case against EMU, the University must defend its handling of and policies around Title IX infractions; the alleged actions of the individuals are not up for discussion.
Support for Students Accused Nationwide
When charges are brought against a student, a University is not in a position to act on that student's behalf; a private defense attorney is. If you find yourself wrongfully accused of a Title IX violation at your school, act fast. Having attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm in your corner allow you to leverage years of Title IX experience in your defense. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.