University statement: Sexual assault cases investigation

We are deeply concerned about the reports of criminal sexual conduct involving our former students. We stand by and strongly support all survivors of sexual assault. There is no place for sexual violence in our campus community and we will always take swift action to stop it.

When these criminal cases came to light this past summer, the University immediately initiated a thorough review into the original allegations, which occurred at off-campus residences a number of years ago.

Our initial review of Title IX and Department of Public Safety records regarding this situation indicate that in no case did a complainant come forward who wished to proceed with a formal investigation by our Title IX or Public Safety office. With few exceptions, no Title IX investigation can proceed without such a person coming forward, or without the evidence such a person might share. Thus, although our Title IX office did offer continuous support services where appropriate, the law did not allow us to launch a more formal Title IX investigation in either case.

To be clear: this does not mean that the University reached any conclusion about what happened in either case.

This past summer, when a complainant came forward to University Police, we immediately and proactively contacted the Ypsilanti Police Department, which has jurisdiction because the incidents occurred off campus and in the city of Ypsilanti. The University has actively provided information and supported the Ypsilanti Police investigation throughout.

In 2019, the University initiated a comprehensive independent external review of our Title IX polices and procedures. That review and final report, which can be found at https://www.emich.edu/documents/title-ix-policy-and-process-report-2019.pdf, drew the following conclusions:

“Eastern complies with Title IX in all of the following aspects of its sexual misconduct policies and procedures.”

“My recommendation moving forward is that the University continue with its high level of compliance.”

“In sum, my review of Eastern Michigan University’s Title IX compliance office and related policies and procedures reflects that the institution has made a very meaningful commitment to addressing sexual misconduct in its educational community. This commitment is reflected in the University’s highly-trained and highly-competent Title IX Coordinator and Title IX Investigator; in its efforts to provide widespread prevention education and training to the University community; in its detailed student investigation procedures which are fair to both parties; and in the cooperation, respect and support the Title IX office receives from its many campus partners.”

Given the recent cases that have come to light, the University recognizes the importance of taking a further look at the specific handling of these incidents. Earlier this month the University commissioned the external firm of Cozen O’Conner, with whom the University has no existing relationship, to review and audit our Title IX and related policies, procedures, and actions regarding these events. We are committed to knowing if our processes related to the recent cases were followed by University employees and, if not, why not and what steps should be taken to ensure that our students are protected and supported. The results of this independent review will be made public.

To reiterate, EMU takes all claims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct seriously and is committed to the thorough investigation of these incidents. If you have any information or wish to report any incident of sexual assault or misconduct, please contact EMU Police at 734-487-1222 or at dps_questions@emich.edu, or file an incident report with the EMU Title IX Office: https://www.emich.edu/title-nine/index.php

September 23, 2020

Written by:
Official Statements

Contact:
Geoff Larcom
glarcom@emich.edu
734-417-9658