ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP/CBS DETROIT) — The University of Michigan released a statement explaining its policy on sexual misconduct after a published report said a football player was expelled in connection with an incident four years earlier.
The Michigan Daily reported Tuesday that ex-Wolverines kicker Brendan Gibbons was “permanently separated” from the university Dec. 20 after the school’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution acted on the basis of a 2009 incident.
According to a police report, a woman accused Gibbons of raping her on Nov. 22, 2009. No charges were filed against Gibbons, a redshirt freshman at the time, was the team’s starting kicker for the next three seasons and now ranks fourth on the all-time list of field goals made at Michigan.
The university didn’t name Gibbons in its Wednesday night statement, but says “questions have been raised about” its “response to allegations of sexual misconduct in 2009.”
The statement says “those allegations were handled in accordance with the university policy” at the time.
Rick Fitzgerald, the associate director of public affairs and internal communication at Michigan, said the U.S. Department of Education made recommendations in April 2011 for universities to change their policies, and in August of that year Michigan implemented an interim policy that reflected those recommendations.
A new policy was finalized in August 2013. The key changes, according to a university press release, deal with how investigations are started and how much evidence is needed to find guilty the accused person.
“The new guidance [from the U.S. Department of Education] also instructed campuses to use a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard to evaluate an allegation of sexual misconduct,” the press release explained. “Previously the university used a ‘clear and convincing evidence’ standard. Under the draft procedure, the university will rely on the less-demanding ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard to substantiate an allegation.”
Where investigations would previously be guided principally by the complainant, under the new procedure all allegations are reviewed, and the complainant can remain anonymous in the process or not participate if desired.
Though Gibbons has been expelled from the university – after completing his football eligibility – the Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office says it’s not reviewing possible charges against Gibbons.
A message seeking comment was left for the 22-year-old three-year starter.