Eastern Michigan University Releases Cozen O’Connor External Review Report

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University today (May 20, 2022) released Cozen O’Connor’s report of its external review regarding the University’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct against three former students who face criminal charges related to multiple off-campus incidents. The incidents in question occurred between 2015 and 2019. The University has released the report in full; no element has been omitted, redacted or withheld at the request of the University.

Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group is nationally recognized for its work to help educational institutions, including colleges and universities, improve institutional responses to sexual harassment and violence and sexist. The two principals engaged in the work of the EMU are former child abuse and sexual violence prosecutors who regularly conduct external investigations and help establish lawful and effective programs under the title. IX and the Clery law.

The University engaged the firm in the fall of 2020 to conduct a fact-gathering investigation to determine whether the University had been advised of potential misconduct by the three former students and what action, if any. , the University has taken on the basis of the information available. Over a period of 20 months, Cozen O’Connor reviewed the conduct of the University in the context of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act , and University policy as it existed at the time of the alleged assaults.

At the time the University announced the external review and in numerous subsequent communications, the University asserted that the results would be made public in full and that any shortcomings in the processes would be addressed aggressively.

Cozen O’Connor’s work was comprehensive and holistic. The firm reviewed a wide range of documents and interviewed 25 people (some on more than one occasion). The firm also reviewed current and past University policies and procedures, training materials, email communications, University police records, a previous university audit, a comprehensive climate survey ( discussed below) and information regarding the EMU Title IX office, as well as several other offices on campus. And, the University’s actions in these cases were compared to a larger sample of the University’s Title IX case files over the relevant period. Cozen O’Connor also reviewed a wealth of outside information from local police departments and prosecutors’ offices involved in the criminal charges against these men.

Notably, Cozen O’Connor’s report is the product of a neutral, impartial and external fact-gathering process. The Firm’s findings, observations and factual summaries are theirs and theirs alone, without interference or direction from University staff or any attorney retained by the University as to content or outcome. Similarly, the University has not set a time for the conclusion of the investigation or the completion of the report.

Key Findings from the Cozen O’Connor Review

The main factual findings of the report are as follows:

  • Although the University has received at least one direct report of sexual assault involving each of the three men who currently face criminal charges, in each case the report to the University was made anonymously or the plaintiff affirmatively chose not to proceed with an official title. IX campus survey.
  • Cozen O’Connor found no documentation or other evidence that the University had prior notice of the additional reports of misconduct described in the pending criminal and civil complaints regarding these assaults, until such complaints have been filed.
  • In 2018, the university’s Title IX Coordinator and Greek Life Coordinator became aware of widespread concerns raised by students regarding incidents of sexual assault within the Greek system at EMU. In response, the Title IX Coordinator and the Greek Life Coordinator expanded education, awareness and prevention programs specifically within the Greek community, including the development of an action plan by the Inter-Fraternity Council (“IFC”) led by students and a resolution by the university’s student government to educate and hold IFC accountable for implementing the plan.
  • Title IX Office records did not consistently include all relevant documentation, including key communications with parties, meeting notes, and rationale for decisions related to the case. This incomplete record keeping has limited the company’s ability to provide as full and complete a picture of the University’s response as possible had the Title IX Coordinator and the Greek Life Coordinator kept more complete documentation and contemporary.

University perspective

In addition to these findings, the report reviewed the University’s Title IX policy then in effect, which closely followed Title IX law in effect at the relevant times. He also discussed and rephrased the results of a recent Title IX campus climate survey conducted by the University, the final results of which have also been made public.

The report’s findings are broadly consistent with the University’s internal factual investigation, and it has already begun a number of efforts to address not only the recordkeeping deficit identified by Cozen O’Connor, but also the problems raised by the internal climate survey.

Eastern Michigan University President James Smith said, “I am heartened to learn that the University appears to have acted appropriately within its level of knowledge regarding these complaints. . However, it is clear that we have work to do in terms of creating complete records of our investigations and records, as well as increasing campus-wide training and education regarding the title IX.

“All members of our University community need to understand what Title IX is, what it does, and most importantly, who to talk to if they need help. All students, but especially sexual assault survivors, should feel supported and empowered here. We have allocated additional Title IX resources to help us achieve these goals, and we are currently engaged in a wide-ranging effort in this regard, including stakeholders from across the university: students, faculty, and staff.

Previous external compliance review conducted in 2019

Prior to Cozen O’Connor’s review of Title IX compliance, the University initiated a comprehensive independent external review of Title IX policies and procedures in March 2019. This review was conducted by Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger, Esq., PLLC, who leads a distinguished team of attorneys and investigators with extensive Title IX experience in higher education. Veidlinger’s final report concluded that “Eastern Michigan University’s Title IX Compliance Office and related policies and procedures reflect the institution’s very significant commitment to combating the sexual misconduct in his educational community”. The University has committed to conducting such external reviews every three years and is currently in the middle of the next such review.

Other actions to support students

Eastern Michigan University is committed to fostering a safe campus environment and encourages open communication between students and leaders, which reflects the University’s Strategic Plan commitment to promoting student success and engagement. . It has implemented many measures to further support students. Please visit this page to learn more.

“There is no doubt that sexual assault on campus is a serious challenge in our country and one that must unite us in a powerful commitment going forward,” Smith said. “Collectively, we must confront sexual assault and support survivors who bravely come forward to tell of their past victimization by other students.

Eastern Michigan University takes all allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating such incidents. If you have information or wish to report an incident of sexual assault or misconduct, please contact EMU Police at 734-487-1222 or [email protected], or file an incident report with the EMU Title IX office.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves over 15,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, honors, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In total, more than 300 majors, minors, and concentrations are offered by the University’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Social Services; and, its doctoral school. UEM is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity and commitment to applied education. For more information on Eastern Michigan University, visit the University website.

Shirlene J. Manley