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Posted on Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5:54 a.m.

External investigation is 1st ordered by University of Michigan in 15 years

By Kellie Woodhouse

The University of Michigan Board of Regents on Thursday ordered an external investigation of a six-month lapse crime reporting lapse that has recently led to criticism from sex crime advocates, university personnel and federal officials.

The order appears to be the first of its kind since 1997, when the university sought an external review of bribery and improper conduct between booster Ed Martin and Wolverine basketball players. That scandal stretched on for six years and eventually led to severe NCAA sanctions and a federal indictment.


University of Michigan Regent Denise Ilitch speaks during a month regents meeting at the Fleming Administration building on Thursday.

Melanie Maxwell I

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the the regents and administrators have not yet determined how they're going to move forward with the external review.

In the Martin case, the university hired law firm Bond, Schoeneck and King to investigate the slew of accusations against the basketball program. It took the firm seven months to issue a 250-page report detailing the scandal, the circumstances leading to it and personnel that abetted the breach.

Less than a week after the report was issued, U-M fired then-basketball coach Steve Fisher.

During the regents meeting Thursday at the Fleming Administration Building, Regent S. Martin Taylor said the board chair Denise IIitch and U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and "others they may deem appropriate and helpful to them" will "develop candidates from outside organizations for regents to choose from to carry out these matters."

"It’s a terrible situation," Taylor said of the recent reporting lapse. "It’s one that is unacceptable to the regents and that we, the regents, feel we must do everything within our power to insure that it is not repeated."

The university has already conducted an internal review of the lapse. The school released its 21-page audit report on February 10. That report placed primary blame for the reporting lapse on a poor decision by a university attorney and unclear communication lines between hospital security police.


Ed Martin

AP Photo

The U.S. Department of Education also is reviewing the case and is in the process of requesting information from U-M. Hospital accrediting agency the Joint Commission was also investigating the case, but decided not to pursue action.

The last time U-M ordered a wide-scale internal review was in November 2009 after the Detroit Free Press reported Rich Rodriguez's football program was in violation of several NCAA rules. As a result of that review, the university imposed sanctions on its football program, disciplined seven employees and fired one graduate assistant coach. The NCAA also reviewed the program and found additional violations.

The recently ordered external investigation stems from child pornography discovered in an employee area of University Hospital in May 2011. A female medical resident reported the pornography to her adviser, who reported to hospital security, which in turn reported it to hospital lawyers.

The university's Office of General Counsel decided not to pursue the case largely under the advice of one attorney. The office never reported it to police. At least eight employees knew about the pornography at the time.

After the Penn State sex abuse scandal, however, a hospital employee with knowledge of the incident brought it to the attention of hospital risk management officials. Several days later, it was eventually reported to university police.

Pediatric resident Stephen Jenson, 36, was quickly linked with porn and has since been charged federally with possessing child porn. He faces a minimum of five years if convicted.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

I am constantly amazed how people often think the top person at an organization that employs thousands is to blame for what all employees do and that they certainly are aware of everything. Atty General holder was accused about the guns to drug dealers fiasco. The "it happened on your watch" theme does not mean that the top executive is at fault for what is done by employees. Also, with all due respect to the faculty, I know of no requirement that the President has to notify them before making a public any information on university affairs other than matters that directly relate to faculty affairs and doing that may only in regard to good faculty relations. I can't imagine why you would want to put the blame on President Coleman unless you have good (factual) reasons to do so, not just because you want to.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

bout time somebody did the right thing.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2 p.m.

When I spoke at the Regents meeting and put blame on President Coleman for the culture of secrecy and cover up, I was greeted with cat-calls from Regents Andrea Fisher-Newman and Larry Dietch and with a statement from Regent Illitch saying that my blame was misplaced. Now we find that the University was warned in 2008 that they must report suspected crimes at the hospital to police and the campus police even tried for charges of obstruction of justice against a security department captain who blocked the reporting of a suspicious death. Why did the Unversity not learn from that incident and why did they not follow the oreder to report all suspected crimes. The most direct evidence of President Coleman's participation in a culture of secrecy was the fact that she appeared before the faculty senate's executive committee on December 5 to discuss the Penn State scandal and asssured them that nothing like that could happen at UM and did not even tell them about this case. She could even have gone into executive session if she felt it was necessary but she chose to keep it secret from the faculty's representatives. The Regents need to stop blaming the outraged public and begin to seriously address this culture of secrecy and retaliation against whistle blowers.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

Report what? No results had been compiled. The audit hadn't been completed. Does the University President report on every pending investigation without results?


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

@naturalize - Yes, per UM's published timeline, Coleman knew of the incident at least by December 3, when she requested the internal audit. The search warrant had been executed the day before. Coleman's failure to timely disclose was, at minimum, a serious lapse of judgment. If she had been forthright from the start, she might be able to make a plausible argument that she had no prior knowledge of the incident.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

Now wait. Did Coleman know about this during the committee meeting on December 5th?


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

@Sparty, unless you are able to post a cogent rebuttal to @trespass's claim (quite believable, in my opinion) that President Coleman kept the Jenson case from the faculty senate's executive committee, when she had a most appropriate opportunity to do otherwise, I am with @trespass on this. Your replies are not addressing any factual issues, but are only frail attempts to belittle the validity of @trespass's statements.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

Will I meet you there camped out for your 15 minutes of fame based on conspiracy claims, similar to those of the never ending "landing on the moon that never happened, JFK shot by his own Department of Justice, and the newest - Gingrich is really a moderate" ?


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Sparty, please stop by the Public Relations department for your free football tickets.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Oh please, why not blame Snyder? Perhaps his culture of fund cuts precipitated this makes as much sense as your claims.