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Posted on Sun, May 5, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

University of Michigan owes public full disclosure in child pornography case

By Staff

When the news broke in January 2012 that six months had passed between the discovery of child pornography on a University of Michigan Hospitals computer and the reporting of that discovery to police, many in the university community were shocked.

At the time, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman called it a “serious failure on the part of our institution.”

Last week, an review of documents released by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office showed how a lack of coordination and communication among several units responsible for safety and security on campus allowed the investigation to be shut down without police involvement.

Ultimately, Stephen Jenson, the resident who brought the pornography to the hospital on a thumb drive, was sentenced to three years in prison, but the reporting lapse allowed him to avoid prosecution for six months.

Since the discovery of the reporting delay, the university has taken several steps to make sure such an incident does not happen again. We applaud those measures, which include creating a new division of Public Safety and Security to foster better coordination between police and security divisions on campus.

But we’re troubled that the university continues to insist publicly that one person was largely responsible for the mishandling of the case. At least eight people, some in high-ranking positions, knew about the discovery of the child pornography and none of them took responsibility for going to the police. Such behavior shows a “not-my-job” mentality that reflects poorly on the individuals and the institution.

We also believe the university, as a publicly funded institution accountable to the public, should go further than it has in revealing the findings of external reviews into the university’s handling of the case.

As well as conducting an internal review of the reporting lapse, the university paid for two external reviews, one by campus security experts Margolis Healy that cost $120,000 and another by law firm Latham & Watkins that cost $487,000. Although the university has released the results of the internal review and the Margolis Healy report, it has cited attorney-client privilege in not releasing the Latham & Watkins report.

While we understand the university’s desire to shield itself from legal claims, we believe this case is so important to public safety and public trust in the university that U-M should release the full report.



Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Scapegoat - Please suggest any documents that can be FOIA'ed to confirm.

Scape Goat

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:16 p.m.

It was Dave Masson's decision.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

Doing the Right Thing? To do the right thing, we need a verification process called transparency, and accountability. Nothing can be said to be right unless it has been verified to find it is right. It is the same principle that we use in any scientific investigation. In Science, nothing can be stated as to be true, unless it is attached with a reasoning to say as to why it is true. University has spent money to find a problem and the results must be disclosed to state that they have in fact discovered a problem which gives the ability to find a solution for that problem.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:17 a.m.

So you would be happy if the U fired everyone that came into contact with the case? The U spent a bunch of bucks investigating this and have shored up their policies in this area. You don't believe them? Sounds like a witch hunt to me.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 10:24 a.m.

The real policy makers are still their and have never been published (I would name names but then this post would be removed). The advisory board for the new division of public safety and security is entirely made up of high administrators and no members of the people who should be served by the police, patients, visitors, faculty, staff & students. That gives you a sense of the true purpose of the reforms, blame it on low level employees and increase the control of the administration over the police so that this type of crime never gets reported in the future.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

In the last article on this topic, Corbie Wells, security supervisor at the hospital, said there is a history and culture of the University interfering with and shutting down criminal investigations. *That* is yet another reason why this report needs to be released. "I had previously experienced the Office of Clinical Affairs shutting down investigations I was working on which were related to doctors." There is never just one roach, and we have an admission that similar incidents have happened before. What about those? Who were the enablers?

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

What if this had happened at a large company like Ford, or GM, or even Dominos? A six month delay in contacting the police after child porn was discovered.. And then a two month cover-up of not disclosing the coverup. I would expect obstruction of justice charges against the individuals involved. But since it is umich, the cover-up is allowed to continue.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

This is a complete lack of being straightforward with what happened. Hiding behind attorney client privilege is a complete cop out! U of M always says they will do the right thing, until the right thing shows just how spineless they are, Enron, Bernie Maddoff and U of M are all in the same boat, with the exception that U of M hises behind the claim they are a non profit. True they are non profit, but just as corrupt as the others. U of M - show you are leaders and the best! Well, perhaps not!!!

Laurie Barrett

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 11:13 p.m.

I love the Hospital and the University as well. Both are superlative institutions. I have had the best of experiences with both. I feel lucky and proud of my associations. Ann Arbor itself is a wonderful area of Michigan, in great part because these institutions define our town. As far as the hospital's professionalism goes, I don't know how it compares with that of, say, the Mayo Clinic, Stanford Hospital, Bronson Methodist Hospital, Ford Motor Company, or any other highly regarded, well-run institution. But some corner cutting and fuzzy ethics do find their way into the hospital's most mundane operations and spread to, apparently, its most important. Maybe every large corporation becomes like this. Not a catastrophic failure--the hospital sustains true dignity and integrity--but enough that it's noticeable and fairly common on close inspection. If prevarication does exist as a standard at the hospital, for whatever reason, I would urge the board to rethink its vision and start putting its back into doing things credibly--from the bottom to the top. I am proud of UM and UMH. If the directors addressed the major lapses and at the same time opened their eyes to examples of the widespread tiny lapses, abundant, which add up to a cultural norm, I'm sure the institution could change much for the better. It is capable of a state of the art ethic. Go Blue--keep excelling!


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

Cloaking the external investigation was merely a prophylactic for the impending fund-raising campaign, which was announced just three weeks after the Regents' Memorandum to university community. Spending a half million dollars to protect billions seems fiscally prudent, though self-serving. But the trusting public and donors have a right to know how high and deep this failure spread. As we know from the Penn State scandal, many innocent people throughout a community/state can suffer negative consequences for the wrongful actions of an elite few. UM should not hold its prestige above the values of the community. Only by releasing the report can we be assured that UM has taken proper corrective actions. The structural changes to the police/security system do not address the administration's response to direct the child porn incident to the attorneys, which was entirely consistent with the policy and practice of the Compliance Resource Center, put in place by Suellyn Scarnecchia and Jeanne Strickland just months before the flash drive was found. Nor do any of the committees set up to carry out the specified changes include representation by faculty, staff and students. It's totally top-heavy with administrators and executive officers, and does not reflect an appreciation for shared governance. It's commendable that this stand was taken by Hopefully you will continue to FOIA the UM for the 15,000+ documents related to this case.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

Whole Dude - Whole Money : Thanks for writing this editorial. It appears that the University holds a whole lot of money to spend as it likes. If this internal review demands an expenditure as reported, I would like to know as to how this money was used. A hospital intern is now placed in a prison and we let others to steal all that money as the crime was not reported on the day it was discovered. We need another probe to know as to how this money has drained out of the system.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Thanks for that correction.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

@Linda- you are correct, he was a third year resident in the Med/Peds program at the time the incident occurred and he was a fourth year resident within 6 months of graduation when he was arrested.

Linda Peck

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

With respect, to make a note on one detail of your comment, this physician was not an intern, but a Resident in the Pediatric Department.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

For those commentors who are essentially saying this is the University's business and we should trust them to handle it, you should remember that it was a reporter from who first reported the delay. The University had not only covered up the child porn for 6 months but they covered up the delay for another 2 months. If not for this reporter, we would never have known about the cover up. No we cannot trust that the University has done all that it should to fix this problem. It takes outside pressure before they will do the right thing.

Rick Stevens

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

How about an editorial about full public disclosure of the finances and audits of SPARK? Since you're so enthusiastic about full disclosure here then why not in the case of SPARK? We dare you - write an editorial for SPARK to open its books, audits since they take our tax money but refuse to let us see how they spend and spent our money. Waiting...


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

Great idea.

Patricia Lesko

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

As much as I agree that transparency is important in particular instance, calling for it with an unsigned editorial from a news site that refused to cover its own loss of staffers, layoffs, etc....comes dangerously close to hypocritical. jettisoned its editorial board when Tony Dearing left. I'm afraid your editorial and business practices (MLive's Dan Gaydou recently refused to allow a reporter from the Columbia Journalism Review to visit the's newsroom or interview any staff) leave you little room to make clarion calls for transparency about anyone or anything. It's tragic, actually, for our community needs clarion calls for transparency in local and county government, as well as with respect to the dealings at the University of Michigan.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Although you may have a point, two wrongs don't make a right. The University of Michigan is a state corporation, equivalent to the legislature and they owe the public honesty and transparency in their conduct of the public's business. No incumbent Regent should be re-elected until they release this report


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

No, no we don't. This is a university matter that was/is being handled in a university manner among the university's legal staff and personnel. There is absolutely nothing that requires any other type of "full disclosure" to the public.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

"This is a university matter that was/is being handled in a university manner among the university's legal staff and personnel" This was the exact recipe by which the current situation was created.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

This sounds like the Penn State excuses.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

Since when is child porn a university matter?

Michigan Man

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Finally, an editorial worthy enough to write home about. I have made numerous comments about this overall matter at U of M Hospitals - some of my comments apparently overly offensive that the thought/speech police have chosen to delete some. Last time I knew, if NO patients went to U of M Hospitals - there would be no hospitals. Patients do and should remain at the top of the healthcare food chain. Patients are the customer, not the physician. I thought the first element of the Hippocratic Oath was = Do No Harm. Protecting and promoting, at all cost, patient safety, remains the highest mission of any healthcare provider worth their salt. This mission seems lost at the U of M Hospitals - Many, many fine and wonderful people are affiliated with the U of M Hospitals system - that we all know. It is simply time for the U of M Hospitals leadership to reaffirm, immediately and in simple language, ZERO tolerance of child porn inspired residents, Neurology Department Chairmen who steal money and other such healthcare providers in the U of M Hospital who are not 100% devoted to patient protection, patient safety and patient privacy. Do not think this is asking for too much - and really very easy to accomplish.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

Arborcomment, did you work for general counsel or hospital security? Can you give specific examples for your statement?


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

Sorry Michigan Reader, you can blame a young resident for not immediately reporting, but that Resident did, less than 24 hours later. What happened after that, is a hospital attorney, responsible for hospital business went into a criminal law matter - something the hospital general counsel has been doing for years with hospital security. Been there, worked there, seen it.

Michigan Reader

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

From the Thursday article on the cover-up, it looks like this was a bad judgement call by a young associate general counsel. Apparently, she didn't think about the possibility of a search warrant for Stephen Jensen's personal effects, and felt that to make accusations of child porn could result in a defamation of character lawsuit against the U. The intern who found the flash drive at the start probably felt she did the right thing in informing the person she did. And, probably thinks she did the right thing in following the staff attorney's advice. The intern knows medicine, after all, the attorney (supposedly) knows the legal aspects of this situation. One poster on this site said 911 should have been called immediately, I don't agree. 911 is for emergencies only, it's not good to tie it up with non-emergency calls. The non-emergency Department of Public Safety number should have been called.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Transparency this is not. Regardless of sweet and fast talking keeping reports secret is not what a public entity should be doing.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

The latest figures for the cost of the Latham & Watkins is $553,000.

Mich Res and Alum

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Of course believes there was some conspiracy. After all, that's what will drive page views and clicks - not the truth that this was no huge coverup but rather mistakes made by a small number (possibly one as the University claims) of individuals.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

Please. You obviously either didn't read the information in the police reports, presented in the article, or you subscribe to the idea that repeating falsehood often enough will somehow make it true. I don't believe the article suggested a "huge coverup"; rather, a systematic and deeply engrained policy of "CYA before all else" that has yet to even be acknowledged, let alone adequately addressed.

Steve Hendel

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Half a million dollar$ (nearly) for that law firm report? Why so expensive? What was their hourly billing rate? This IS public money, after all.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Also Mich Res and Alum, regardless of how much or how little taxpayer money is currently flowing directed to the university, every brick, every book, every building and everything in every building belongs ENTIRELY to the taxpayers of the State of Michigan, and will continue to until such time as the U either becomes a private institution and starts paying taxes or ceases to exist. No amount of arrogance on the part of anyone, whether admin or alum, will change that fact.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

@Mich Res and Alum. Congratulations. The classic, incredibly predictable, UM hypocrisy. When the U is criticized for spiraling tuition costs, we get the instant finger-pointed at the state for cutting funding. When we encounter any of the many instances of the U thumbing its nose at the state legislature and/or the state taxpayers, all we hear is that state money has no, and should have no, impact on the institution's actions/obligations because it's such a "small percentage" of total operating revenue. How could you even type it with a straight face?


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

@Mich Res- State appropriations still amount to 22% of the General Fund budget. No matter what budget line you put this on it is costing money that could have been spent on a better educational experience or less tuition. It cost every student at this university more than $10.

Mich Res and Alum

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

No, it's not public money. The money UM gets from the state is such a minuscule percent of it's budget and even less so for the UMHS

average joe

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

I find it interesting and quite telling of where the U-M's priorities are when they spend four times as much on the 'legal' side (or lawsuit prevention service) of the incident as they did on the 'security' aspect (or incident prevention) of it.

Samuel Burns

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

I find it interesting and quite telling of how much more lawyers charge for their time than security experts do.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

I'm wondering about "our need to know". The offender was one man with a flash drive. I assume we want to know that interviews were conducted with any potential victims about inappropriate behavior, but they shouldn't give us any details of any discussion, these are patients after all. Why do we need to see the full report? You've already acknowledged the positive changes. "Since the discovery of the reporting delay, the university has taken several steps to make sure such an incident does not happen again. We applaud those measures, which include creating a new division of Public Safety and Security to foster better coordination between police and security divisions on campus." "As well as conducting an internal review of the reporting lapse, the university paid for two external reviews, one by campus security experts Margolis Healy that cost $120,000 and another by law firm Latham & Watkins that cost $487,000. Although the university has released the results of the internal review and the Margolis Healy report, it has cited attorney-client privilege in not releasing the Latham & Watkins report."


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 10:12 a.m.

They may not have been UM patients but at least 17 images were in the FBI database and so some of the victims were identifiable


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

I don't think it's been suggested anywhere that the offender had photos of young U of M patients.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

UM is citing attorney-client privilege, not patient confidentiality. If there were protected health information or other confidential information, that could be redacted. UM has not chosen to do that.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

There was only one man who had the child pornography but it "takes a village" to conduct a 6 month cover up. There was also a second cover up after the search of his home found more child pornography but the President and her administration did not reveal the delay until it was outed by nearly two months later.