Report: Michigan under investigation for response to 2009 rape case

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

The University of Michigan is reportedly the subject of a federal investigation regarding the school's handling of an alleged 2009 rape involving former kicker Brendan Gibbons.

The Detroit News reported Tuesday that two complaints prompted the investigation, and the U.S. Department of Eduction confirmed that the Office for Civil Rights is investigating a Title IX complaint involving the school.

Gibbons was arrested, but never charged, after it was alleged that he sexually assaulted a female student at a party on Nov. 22, 2009. It was not until Dec. 19, 2013, that Gibbons received a letter telling him he would be expelled from the school due to a violation of the Student Sexual Conduct Policy.

According to the report, Doug Smith, a former University of the Michigan pathologist, filed a complained with the U.S. Department of Education last year. He alleged that the school refused to investigate the case and claimed that "the grievance procedure does not fully comply with Title IX." Smith has reportedly been one of the "loudest voices demanding that the university investigate the alleged rape."

More details, via The Detroit News:

According to the letter sent to Smith: “(The Office for Civil Rights) has determined it is appropriate to proceed to investigation on the following issue: that the University failed to promptly and equitably respond to complaints, reports and/or incidents of sexual violence of which it had notice, and, as a result, students were subjected to a sexually hostile environment.”

The letter also indicated that one of the students was expelled from U-M in December 2013. That month, the university notified Gibbons that he was being expelled for violating the school's sexual misconduct policy.

University officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the investigation. The victim, and Gibbons, also could not be reached for comment.

Brady Hoke released a statement earlier this month regarding the strange timeline of events in the Gibbons case. He denied any influence from the athletic department, but declined to share any details due to federal privacy laws and University policies.

"Michigan Athletics has no influence over any part of a review of a potential violation of University's student code of conduct -- not the process, the investigation or the timing of the resolution," Hoke said. "In general, while we may be aware of an ongoing proceeding, we always strive to balance transparency with privacy.

"Our usual approach is to not issue discipline related to a student's standing on the team before the University's process runs its course and the outcome has been determined. We will always respect the rights and confidentiality of the process and the parties involved. One way we do that is by not discussing the details of student disciplinary matters."

Taylor Lewan, Gibbons' former roommate, addressed the issue last week at the NFL Combine.

"That's definitely a situation between those two people," Lewan told MLive.com in Indianapolis, in response to allegations that he intimidated the witness in the Gibbons case. "I'm not here to protect Brendan or the young lady. That's not what I'm here to do. I'm here to talk about football."

According to The Detroit News, a group of Michigan students are planning to march to the Fleming Administration Building to demonstrate against the administration's handling of sexual violence cases.

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