University faces accusation of sex allegation cover up involving a lecturer

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A UM-Dearborn student told police Friday, March 1 that she had been sexually assaulted by a lecturer in his office, according to The Detroit News. UM-Dearborn Police started an investigation the same day, along with other police agencies.

Although the lecturer was suspended the following Monday, and resigned from the university the following Friday, the case is still open and the lecturer has not been charged.

According to a whistleblower email sent to The Detroit News and the UM Board of Regents, they said “It is imperative we consider the message we send to the victim when we fail to properly report and investigate, because that failure sends a clear message … that we don’t care.”

The details were laid out in a piece in Monday’s Detroit News, which moved on the story after hearing about it from a university employee. The News later filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, a state law which mandates that public institutions open their files, though there are exceptions, delays and costs that can keep the information private.

According to the News, the assault happened in the unnamed lecturer’s office in late February. He claimed that the encounter was consensual. The student’s grade was then changed from a D to a B. The News said that the email sent to the student said, “the next time you want to work on your grade you know what we can do.”

The unnamed victim “was seen at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor hospital, where a police report was taken by the University of Michigan Ann Arbor Police,” according to a whistleblower email obtained by The News. “A sexual assault examination was administered to the victim.”

The News FOIA request uncovered two university records. One states the investigation was closed; the other says it was still open. 

“When our police department’s investigation concluded, it was marked as closed,” said Kenneth Kettenbeil, Vice Chancellor of External Relations to The Michigan Journal. “We agree that that might not be the most accurate representation as to where we are with the case and so we have since made a change.”

UM Ann Arbor police were alerted about the case when the student went to an Ann Arbor hospital, according to The News. DNA samples were taken after a week by Dearborn police and the student’s results came back April 2. It took until September 12 for the lecturer’s results to come back. 

The UM Board of Regents were also alerted of this situation last month by the employee, although the Regents did not comment on the situation, according to The Detroit News. However, Kettenbeil says the Board of Regents immediately brought the email to UM administrators.

University of Michigan regents adopted a policy, SPG 601.22, that went into effect February 18, 2019 titled Prohibitions Regarding Sexual, Amorous, and/or Dating Relationships Between Teachers and Learners. 

Wayne County prosecutors are reviewing the case.

What can students, faculty and staff do if this happens on campus:

  1. Call the UM-Dearborn Police & Public Safety at 313-593-5333.
  2. Go to the Incident and Complaint Reporting section of the website.
  3. Visit Counseling & Psychological Services.