'Enough is enough.' New lawsuit to be filed in Eastern Michigan sex assault case

Posted at 7:20 AM, May 24, 2021

(WSYM) — A new lawsuit is being filed in the Eastern Michigan University sex assault allegations, adding to the growing list of women now accusing the university and countless others of not protecting them on campus, and allowing alleged predators to attend school while being accused of rape and sexual assault.

There are three fronts – the criminal case, the civil case, which we are focused on, and the university now claiming it's not their fault.

Related: EMU says it lacked 'sufficient knowledge' of sex assault claims of several students

The university has been under a cloud of scrutiny during the last year over accusations of rape allegedly being swept under the rug without proper investigation or follow through. We've learned that Monday morning, a new civil lawsuit with seven additional women will be filed against EMU, its police department, Title IX plus two fraternities and sororities.

"It's the same pattern of conduct by the people that were supposed to protect the women that knew about these rapes, knew about these assaults but did not take the proper precautions to protect the women," Attorney Todd Flood said.

Related: Lawsuit alleges Eastern Michigan University 'turned a blind eye' to sexual assaults

A total of 34 women have now joined this civil lawsuit, the latest one added a few days ago.

Flood said it's a "very tragic case" where the young lady committed suicide in her dorm about six months after she was allegedly raped.

Carolyn Clifford sat down with Flood to talk about the women, who want to remain anonymous.

"We call all of these women Jane Doe, Jane Doe 1, 2, 3, 4 and it goes on and on, why?" Flood asked. "To protect them, you know, they've already been ostracized enough.

This whole case began in 2020 when a student at Eastern told her mom she had been raped. She was the first Jane Doe victim to press charges, but she would not be the last.

"How did you get the courage to now be sitting in front of me?" Clifford asked.

"I thought it only happened to me with this person, and there were more of us that were hurt by this person. After I realized, it was kind of like, enough is enough," she told us.

According to the lawsuit, countless women had gone to EMU's Title IX department. Title IX is used to protect the environment of students and make sure they are in a safe place, just like an HR department.

Quote from Todd Flood on sexual abuse case against Eastern Michigan University

The lawsuit alleges that many spoke directly to Melody Werner, who led Title IX but has since resigned.

"Tell me what did you say to her?" Clifford asked.

"I told her I was sexually assaulted and that I didn't know what to do, and she told me there was nothing they could do," the woman responded.

Last week, the university filed a response to the lawsuit. It says Werner has denied these accusations. The school also stood by prior statements Werner made denying that she deterred a student from reporting a gang rape.

The university also is saying in part, it can't act on cases that it has no knowledge of and denied that it could act in the cases they were made aware of because the women did not want to take action or the information came to them anonymously.

"Our response does not dispute or challenge any survivor's allegation that they suffered a sexual assault. It focuses on the important legal distinctions between what the plaintiffs' counsel claims are the University responsibilities in these cases and our actual responsibilities under federal law (Title IX)," it said.

The suit claims alleged victims went to EMU's Police Department, where they say they felt victimized twice.

"How could you let this happen to other women knowing that it very well could have been your own daughter or your own sister? Why wouldn't you try to stop that?"

Flood says this case broke wide open when two Ypsilanti police officers, both women, refused to turn a blind eye.

"Women were being raped. It was pronounced on EMU's campus. They found one and then they heard about the others and they started getting leads," Flood said.

Monday on 7 Action News at 6 p.m., you'll hear more from women who say they were viciously raped while students at Eastern Michigan. They sat down with our Carolyn Clifford to talk about their first for justice.