By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Reported Tuesday, the permanent separation of kicker Brendan Gibbons from the University of Michigan raises a troubling question: Since Gibbons’ alleged sexual misconduct occurred in 2009, why was he allowed to continue as a student and member of the storied Wolverines football program for the next three seasons?
According to the Michigan Daily, a document pertaining to Gibbons, dated Nov. 20, 2013, and signed by Stacy Vander Velde, associate director of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, stated that the university’s review of a sexual assault allegation yielded a significant amount of evidence of Gibbons’ guilt. The findings prompted the University to conclude “the Respondent engaged in unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, committed without valid consent, and that conduct was so severe as to create a hostile, offensive, or abusive environment.”
Gibbons played for the Wolverines days later, on Saturday, Nov. 23, against Iowa. He made all three of his field goal attempts. Gibbons did not play in the season finale against Ohio State – dealing with an injury, it was announced – or in the bowl game, ostensibly due to a family matter.
The university’s investigation into Gibbons stems from a police report filed Nov. 22, 2009, which documented a rape allegation against him.
In the report, the officer noted the woman said the sex was not consensual, while Gibbons maintained it was. The incident was allegedly reported by a friend of the victim.
Later in the police report, the investigating officer reported that he spoke with the alleged victim Dec. 17, 2009, and she had not decided whether to pursue charges against Gibbons. He told her he needed to know by Jan. 7, 2010, and did not hear from her by that time, so the case was classified as solved.
Elsewhere in the report, it is stated that police followed up with the alleged victim after that, upon receiving word from the Office of Student Services that threatening comments were being made about the women by other football players. One reportedly asked if the woman was going to press charges and said he would rape her if she did.
“As of now, the victim has chosen to pursue this complaint thorough the U-M internal process regarding sexual assault,” Lt. Robert Pfannes said.
The case could be reopened, as the statute of limitations has not expired. The victim was informed of that fact, but for now it seems no legal action is forthcoming.
Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Steve Hiller says the office “never received a request for prosecution for anyone by that name.”
Though Michigan has now reportedly cut ties with Gibbons – now that he has completed his career as a football player and is fourth on the all-time list for field goals made – Michigan associate athletic director Dave Ablauf would not comment on the report.
“We cannot speak to the private University standing of an individual student,” Ablauf said. “The only person that can do that is the individual themselves.”
University of Michigan Public Safety spokesperson Diane Brown said the alleged incident occurred off-campus and thus was not its case.
With Gibbons reportedly in Florida and Michigan staying silent, among the questions still unanswered are what Michigan’s internal inquiry turned up on the incident, when the school’s internal investigation began, when football team officials were informed, whether any other punishment was administered, and ultimately why Gibbons was allowed to remain a student and a football player as long as he was.