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Arthur Tarnow, senior United States district judge for the Eastern District of Michigan’s Southern Division, ruled on Thursday to both dismiss and proceed in a trial on claims made by Music, Theatre & Dance alum Andrew Lipian against the University of Michigan.
The ruling comes after Lipian claimed David Daniels, former Music, Theatre & Dance professor, both sexually harassed and sexually assaulted him while he was a Daniels’s student. Lipian also accused the University of Michigan of ignoring numerous claims that Daniels was sexually aggressive toward students as well as not taking Lipian’s claims of sexual harassment seriously because he is a male. Lipian also claimed the University retaliated against him once he filed a lawsuit against them.
In his ruling, Tarnow criticized the University, saying the Title IX office’s report on the claims brought about by Lipian was an effort to diminish Lipian’s character by talking about Lipian’s sexuality and personal life.
“The Report is also shockingly mean-spirited,” Tarnow wrote. “Though it’s (sic) conclusions are non-judgemental, the anonymous student statements used as sources appear to be out of their way to impugn Lipian’s character.”
Tarnow went on his ruling to criticize the University’s Office of Institutional Equity integrity and their handling of student’s privacy.
“The OIE has managed to demonstrate a callous disregard for both the privacy of its students and the integrity of its investigation,” Tarnow wrote.
The judge ultimately ruled to proceed in Lipian’s case against the University because of Lipian’s claims that the University violated Title IX when reviewing his allegations against the former professor. However, the judge also moved to dismiss Lipian’s retaliation claim that alleged the University’s Title IX office of not substantiating Lipian’s claims because he was suing the school.
In a statement to The Daily regarding the ruling, Lipian’s lawyer Deborah Gordon talked about the need for the University to require all faculty to go through sexual harassment training and take claims of sexual misconduct seriously in the future.
“Faculty on student sexual harassment is a serious issue on campus,” Gordon wrote. “The power differential makes students very vulnerable. University officials admitted at depositions that they knew students were afraid to report because of retaliation. The testimony from the Dean of the SMTD was that she did not know of any sexual harassment training that was required for faculty. This must be addressed. As we can see from this case, Daniels’ behavior was hardly a secret. But no action was taken to protect students.”
The University also expressed satisfaction with the ruling, according to a statement from Vice President for Public Affairs Rick Fitzgerald.
We are pleased that the court dismissed most of the complaint in this matter,” the statement read. “Judge Tarnow dismissed eight of the nine claims and also found that none of the individual defendants belonged in the lawsuit. At the University of Michigan, we take claims of harassment very seriously. We take prompt and appropriate action in response to claims of harassment, including with respect to Mr. Lipian.”
Reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.