External investigation is 1st ordered by University of Michigan in 15 years
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.
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
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.
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.