SMTD professor files countersuit against student accusing him of sexual assault

Saturday, December 29, 2018 - 5:28pm

David Daniels, Professor in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan, filed a counterclaim against Andrew Lipian, a SMTD graduate student who claims Daniels sexually assaulted him.

David Daniels, Professor in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan, filed a counterclaim against Andrew Lipian, a SMTD graduate student who claims Daniels sexually assaulted him. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Robert Recker/Virgin Classics

David Daniels, School of Music, Theatre & Dance professor at the University of Michigan and world-famous countertenor, filed a counterclaim earlier this month against Andrew Lipian, a Music, Theatre & Dance graduate student who claims Daniels sexually assaulted him.  

Lipian filed the initial lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 24, alleging Daniels made both in-person and online suggestive comments to him. The lawsuit alleges Daniels drugged and sexually assaulted Lipian on March 24, 2017. Lipian also claims the University knew of Daniels’ history of sexual assault yet did nothing about it.

In response, Daniels filed a counterclaim alleging “invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress” on Dec. 14. The counterclaim argues Lipian’s claims against Daniels do not allege quid pro quo harassment nor behaviors that create a toxic environment affecting Lipian’s success as a student.

In addition, Daniels claims after the March 24 incident, Lipian continued to send Daniels sexually suggestive messages and pictures.

Deborah Gordon, Lipian’s lawyer said the counterclaim was “frivolous,” arguing Daniels cannot countersue based only on lawsuit papers they’ve filed in court.

“His entire counterclaim is based on the fact that he says he doesn’t like what we’ve said about him in court pleading,” Gordon said. “We are going to file a motion for sanctions if they continue with this. Because they have no basis to sue us for what’s in our legal complaint.”

Gordon also noted she alleged hostile environment harassment, not quid pro quo harassment.

Francyne Stacey, Daniels’ lawyer, defended the counterclaim and emphasized the case should be decided by the court.

“A lot of aspects of the complaint have already been posted and discussed and I don’t think that’s fair to anybody… People are making judgments about things they don’t know anything about,” said Stacey, “The counterclaims, we filed them because they’re valid claims. And the court will decide the entire case, not social media.”

Lipian’s Oct. 24 complaint claims Daniels invited Lipian to his apartment in March to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race and discuss Lipian’s career.  When Lipian said he needed to rest for a performance the next day, the lawsuit alleges that Daniels gave Lipian what he claimed was Tylenol PM but was actually Ambien.

Lipian claims Daniels then unclothed Lipian, touching Lipian’s genitals and face. The lawsuit states not long after the incident, Daniels told Lipian he would receive a full fellowship for his two-year master’s program.

The lawsuit also states another faculty member became aware of the assault in August 2018 and reported it to the University Title IX office. Since then, the complaint alleges, there has been no investigation and Lipian has not been contacted by the University.

Daniels was placed on paid leave in August after allegations of rape against him and his husband by baritone singer Samuel Schultz broke in the New York Daily News. Since August, Music, Theatre & Dance senior Samuel Kidd and an anonymous student have also publicly accused Daniels of sexual misconduct.

There are also claims that the University knew of the incident with the anonymous student before Daniels was granted tenure in March, and that the University had learned of the other allegations before Schultz’s allegations were made public in August.

In an email, Rick Fitzgerald, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs, declined to comment on behalf of the University, explaining the matter was between Daniels and Lipian.

This is a developing story. Please check back at michigandaily.com for more information.