Michigan: Flawed System for Handling Campus Sex Assaults

Michigan: Flawed System for Handling Campus Sex Assaults

Michigan's 15 public universities have varying and inconsistent policies for handling on-campus sexual assault complaints, with some of the state's roughly 50 investigators receiving little or no training with handling complaints. Students--both the accused and the accuser--involved in sex assault investigations are often left in the hands of unprepared school administrators who are tasked with figuring out what happened.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Numerous cases across the state have exposed a flawed and inconsistent system of on-campus justice for how Michigan's public universities respond to claims of sexual assault, with campuses taking widely differing approaches. And victims and the accused are often left hanging.

“These offices are not equipped for this significant of an investigation,” said attorney Deb Gordon, who has represented clients in sexual assault investigations at several Michigan universities. “You have both sides (the accuser and the accused) who at the end of the day aren't happy with how the investigation is run.

“You are asking someone who is, most often, poorly trained to investigate these matters. (The investigators) are not attuned to all the nuances.”

There's a lot riding on the outcome for those filing the complaint and those who are accused by someone of a sexual assault.

Their fates — both their academic careers and their lives moving forward — are in the hands of a staff member who is tasked with figuring out what exactly happened. That means the three Michigan State football players accused of sexual assault and the alleged victim are waiting for an investigator to figure out whether the accusation is true or not. Dozens of women who have accused Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual assault during his time at Michigan State are waiting for answers, as are accusers and the accused at each of the state's public universities.

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