New motion in Daniels lawsuit claims ‘U’ lawyers engaged in practices 'designed to harass’ plaintiff

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 10:26pm

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A motion filed by attorney Deborah Gordon on behalf of Andrew Lipian — a vocal performance graduate program alum and plaintiff in the ongoing Lipian v. University of Michigan case — Tuesday alleged the University engaged in practices “designed to harass and oppress” Lipian.

In the motion for a protective order, Gordon wrote the University’s investigative process was aggressive and for inadmissible evidence to prove Lipian — a married man with three children — was gay. She wrote proving the sexual orientation of Lipian would contribute to a theory that because he is gay, he actually welcomed the advances of David Daniels, a renouned counter-tenor who was charged with second-degree criminal sexual misconduct along with his huband, Scott Walters, after he received tenure from the University. 

“In addition to ignoring well-settled law rejecting this theory, Defendant is blatantly playing on harmful stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community equating same-sex relationships with indiscriminate promiscuity,” the motion read. “Moreover, through its questions attempting to elicit evidence that Plaintiff is gay, the University has made it clear that it is willing to ‘out’ any student who sues them, even where, as here, the sexuality of the Plaintiff is not relevant as to whether he was sexually assaulted and harassed by an openly gay Professor.”

July 2 court transcripts obtained by The Daily show the University’s attorney, Brian Schwartz of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, asking Lipian if he has ever had sex with anyone besides his wife, sexual relationships with peers in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, kissed another man and if he has ever had a “gay or bisexual experience.” Schwartz also asked if Lipian had ever lied in bed with Walters with their bodies touching, texted with him in a sexually charged manner or if he ever had sexual contact with Walters.

The motion seeks to institute a protective order that would prohibit the University lawyer from probing Lipian’s prior romantic and sexual histories and conducting further discovery solely intended to “harass, oppress and punish” Lipian for suing the University.

Daniels and Walters both faced extradition to Texas for the alleged rape of Samuel Schultz, a New York based baritone, in Houston in 2010. Last week, a grand jury indicted Daniels and Walters.

While Daniels has been placed on paid leave since August 2018, the University began the process of firing him this month. The Daily uncovered that the University knew of Daniels’ alleged misconduct before he made tenure.

Numerous allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged since then, including from Lipian, who said he was sexually assaulted by Daniels. Lipian accused Daniels of drugging and assaulting him, and the University was accused of being aware of the claims against Daniels and ignored them when deciding to grant tenure.

Daniels denied Lipian’s claims and filed a countersuit against Lipian alleging “invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The University has previously disputed claims it did not properly investigate accusations against Daniels.

University spokeswoman Kim Broekheuzin pointed The Daily to a motion filed by lawyers on Monday with the goal of getting a forensic examination of Lipian’s phone and response to questions posed by Schwartz during discovery to Lipian. Because the plaintiff disputes the statement that Lipian is straight and did not engage in a consensual relationship with Daniels and Schultz, the lawyers wrote in the motion there is a need to clearly define the nature of the relationship and if Daniels’ actions were unwelcome.

The court transcript shows Gordon told Lipian not to answer multiple questions from Schwartz. In her motion, she wrote this was because the questions — which she said fell under inquiring about past sexual relationships — violated both federal and University policy.

Gordon said in an interview with The Daily the University has a public stance of believing survivors, but in this instance, that is not the case.

“I am stunned that the University has taken it upon itself, for all of its so-called ‘start by believing’ campaign and supposed support of victims, that they are actually now coming after my client and trying to challenge his statement that he is heterosexual,” Gordon said. “In all the years I’ve done sexual harassment cases, I’ve never seen anything like this.”