A federal civil rights lawsuit alleges Eastern Michigan University (EMU) officials covered up sexual crimes involving 11 victims who were raped or assaulted on or around the school’s campus. According to the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, March 24, in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan, university officials “turned a blind eye” to the female victims who came forward. Stern Law is prepared to assist other EMU sexual assault survivors who have not yet come forward to help tell their story and pursue the compensation needed to move forward in their lives.
The tragedy unfolding in Ypsilanti, Michigan, surrounding alleged cover-ups of sexual assault goes beyond those 11 assault survivors featured in the March 24th filing. The aforementioned federal lawsuit, which was filed against the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents and two fraternities, highlights that police are now investigating over 30 rapes on and around EMU’s campus, which is located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The suit also states that campus police purposely failed to enter reports from the assault survivors into a computer system, allegedly to avoid widespread awareness about these troubling events. The female victims allege that the EMU failed to train staff to investigate sex assaults and failed to follow Title VII, a federal law that bans sex-based discrimination.
The 13-count suit seeks compensation for sexual assault, gross negligence, retaliation, among other violations. The suit alleges the 11 anonymous women were raped by four men. At this time, three of the men are facing felony charges: Thomas Hernandez, Dustyn Durbin, and D’Angelo McWilliams, a student at the time of the alleged crimes who is now on unpaid administrative leave as a Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Jane Doe 9, one of the 11 accusers named Jane Doe 1-11 in court documents, detailed two separate events at the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity house in 2018 and 2019 involving former fraternity member Durbin. Jane Doe 9 alleges that she fell asleep in Durbin’s room, and when she woke up, he was groping in her in a sexual manner. She had not consented to any sexual contact. She also woke up to find him biting her neck, the lawsuit states. Durbin, McWilliams, and Hernandez currently face trial in Washtenaw County.
A woman identified in the suit as Jane Doe 1 alleges that Hernandez and McWilliams raped her following a Delta Tau Delta fraternity party in 2018. According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe 1 suffered physical and emotional injuries as a result. Hernandez and McWilliams told campus police that the sexual acts were consensual, according to the lawsuit. Former EMU Title IX Director Melody Werner met with Hernandez and McWilliams on a number of occasions, where the two men gave statements pertaining to the assault. However, quite troublingly, those statements were not properly recorded, the lawsuit alleges.
Overall, the tragic timeline surrounding these events face one troubling truth: some charges against the perpetrators involved took nearly four years to be filed. This alone exposes the critical need for effective resources and advocacy on behalf of those who experience sexual assault. While it does not appear to be questionable that EMU has serious work to do to ensure their campus provides the security and care needed for survivors of sexual assault to come forward and have their cases heard, our litigation will be focused on assisting the victims who come forward to hold the perpetrators and those negligent fully responsible.
How Stern Law’s Sexual Assault Lawyers Can Help
At Stern Law, our lawyers fully understand the extremely sensitive nature surrounding the injuries and harm our clients have experience. We believe our strongest asset in assisting clients, in all types of cases, is our client-first approach. With such an approach, sensitivity surrounding the emotions and respect for our client’s personal experience and trauma is our top priority. When handling a claim, an experienced sexual assault attorney at Stern Law can help in a wide variety of ways. While taking care to assist with the trauma involved with sensitivity and care, our lawyers will be diligent in collecting and preserving important evidence to hold the liable parties accountable. Where a client is interested in avoiding an emotionally difficult process like trial, Stern Law attorneys will negotiate a full and fair settlement while advocating for you in court. We are confident our skilled attorneys and co-counsel can handle all aspects of the lawsuit while you focus on recovering from physical, mental, and emotional harm.
Before a judgment or settlement can help provide closure and justice for a survivor of sexual assault, there are important steps that must be taken to protect a case and pave the way forward for a successful outcome. Some of the key ways in which a sexual assault attorney can help build the strongest case for victims of sexual assault include:
- Investigating the facts and circumstances of the assault:
Because sexual assault cases can be complex, it’s critical to have relevant evidence. An attorney can listen to your story and collect and preserve physical evidence, witness testimonies, and police reports.
- Determining all of the parties to be held responsible:
Sometimes third parties can be held liable in a sexual assault case if they had a duty to keep you safe but failed to do so. For instance, the negligence of universities, businesses, hospitals, and other entities may cause them to be held liable for the sexual assault you have suffered. An attorney can thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the sexual assault and help you determine which party or parties could be held liable.
- Evaluating your injuries and pursuing the compensation you are entitled to:
First, to be clear, no amount of money can undo the trauma a survivor of sexual assault experiences. The unfortunate truth is that with a civil case brought against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, our work is aimed at addressing the emotional and physical toll of the events. Evaluating the harm that you sustained, both physically and mentally, and arriving at appropriate compensation for these injuries can be challenging. An experienced sexual assault lawyer Stern Law will discuss your injuries with you and our experts to cover all the compensation that you deserve, while also pursuing the funds needed for future medical costs, including therapy in the years to come.
- Seeking a full and fair settlement:
An experienced attorney understands how to negotiate with insurance companies that provide coverage to the party responsible for the sexual assault or a university, school, church, or another potentially liable party.
Focusing solely on a civil case for damages against the perpetrator can be difficult, especially if the individual or individuals are in prison. As in the aforementioned EMU case, it could be a university that has been negligent in securing a property, performing background checks on staff, attempting to cover up the assault, or another negligent action or inaction that contributed to the sexual assault. This is not an effort to blame the blameless but, instead, ensure that those who failed to provide an environment of safety and security for survivors of sexual assault are held fully accountable.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault, you deserve access to an experienced and compassionate sexual assault attorney who will help you seek justice against the institutions that were responsible for the assault. At Stern Law, our experienced and compassionate sexual assault attorneys listen intently to survivors, champion their courage in coming forward and treat them with the dignity they deserve. We are ready to lay out all of the legal options available to you for getting justice and compensation following the sexual assault. We want you to find your voice and help hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, while seeking the compensation needed to move forward.
Are you the survivor of an EMU sexual assault?
Contact Stern Law Today
Contact Stern Law if you believe you have a case against Eastern Michigan University for a sexual assault involving those named above or others. You deserve an experienced and aggressive attorney who has the skills and resources needed to go after the individuals responsible for the sexual assault with professionalism, respect and diligence. Stern Law will fight tirelessly for the compensation and justice you deserve for your injuries and pain and suffering.
You can call lead attorney Ken Stern confidentially now at 248-982-4788 to learn more about how Stern Law can help you with your case against EMU. We can review your sexual assault case and provide you with legal advice, explaining all of your options and how we can help you achieve a favorable outcome. Stern Law and its co-counsel have successfully provided legal assistance to numerous sexual assault survivors, and we are prepared to do the same for you.