University of Michigan settles sex-abuse lawsuit brought by students

University of Michigan
Posted at 10:18 AM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 18:08:02-04

(WXYZ) — The University of Michigan has reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit brought by students who sought to force changes in how the school protects the campus from sexual misconduct. The deal was filed in federal court on Thursday.

“There will now be policies and procedures which will dramatically reduce the risk of another sexual predator ever appearing on campus, and if one does, (the university is) going to be much better equipped to cope with it, to stop it, to help victims heal," plaintiff's attorney Powell Miller told 7 Action News.

As part of the settlement agreement, the Ann Arbor school will create and pay for a multidisciplinary standing committee designed to protect the university community from sexual abuse.

The Coordinated Community Response Team will be comprised of about 30 members, including Title IX and campus sexual misconduct experts, students, community members and select members of the administration and faculty.

U-M said in a statement that the CCRT will include:

  • Rebecca Veidlinger, an external expert with experience evaluating institutional responses to sexual misconduct and identifying areas for improvement. She would serve for at least the first three years. She is an attorney who works as a Title IX consultant, conducting investigations, adjudications, training and compliance consulting in the area of campus sexual assault and K-12 sexual misconduct. She also has served as an intermittent lecturer at the U-M Law School, teaching a course entitled "Title IX and Higher Education Law." 
  • Sandra Levitsky, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and associate professor of sociology in the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, who studies gender and sexuality. She is currently analyzing how colleges and universities are responding to outside pressure to address sexual violence on campus, including a longitudinal analysis of the policies and practices of 380 colleges and universities. 
  • Tamiko Strickman, special adviser to the U-M president and executive director of the university's Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office. Strickman is an attorney and a Title IX professional with more than a dozen years of experience with sexual misconduct matters. She has been at U-M since 2019.

According to U-M, this is a separate settlement agreement and is in addition to the $490 million agreement announced in January in connection to alleged abuse by Robert Anderson.

The creation of the Coordinated Community Response Team is another important step toward our vision of becoming a national leader in protecting our community from inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct," said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman in a statement. "The structure of the team, which includes leadership from outside the university, will give a voice to all members of our community who have a perspective to share on this vital effort."