Washtenaw County prosecutors dropped charges accusing former UMHS resident Stephen Jenson of possessing child pornography yesterday as the University’s Board of Regents independently called for an extended investigation into the University’s handling of the incident at its monthly meeting.
At Jenson’s preliminary examination yesterday morning, 15th District Court Judge Christopher Easthope dismissed the case without prejudice after he was advised to do so by county prosecutors and Jenson’s attorney, Joseph Simon, due to the federal charges brought against Jenson. He didn’t appear in court because he is currently in federal custody.
Jenson was charged on Tuesday with the possession and receipt of child pornography in an affidavit filed by the U.S. Secret Service. According to the affidavit, agents found 97 photos and four videos of suspected child pornography in a search warrant executed by detectives from the University’s Department of Public Safety on Dec. 2.
UMHS officials waited six months to appropriately alert DPS after a resident found a USB thumb drive owned by Jenson that contained child pornography in May. University President Mary Sue Coleman ordered an internal audit of the delay on Dec. 3. At the University Board of Regent’s meeting yesterday afternoon, Coleman spoke briefly regarding the results of the investigation.
“It is a frank, difficult and necessary assessment of the incident itself as well as the larger context of safety and security in our health system and on our campus,” Coleman said.
Regent S. Martin Taylor (D-Grosse Pointe Farms) introduced a motion, which declared that the regents will immediately “assume control and responsibility for the directed remedial actions that must be taken” in response to the Jenson case.
The motion calls for an external investigation to review “individual accountability” in the case and determine if further corrective actions need to be taken. The motion called for the hiring of experts to examine the organizational structure of the University’s public safety agencies and the reformation of the University’s 911 system so callers clearly know whether they are calling police or security.
“When people call, it should be clear who they are talking to and under what authority,” Taylor said.
To execute these actions, the motion instructed Coleman and Regent Denise Ilitch (D-Bingham Farms), chair of the board, to hire relevant experts or consultants to perform the external review and assist other tasks moving forward.
“This situation is one that is unacceptable to the regents,” Taylor said. “And we the regents feel we must do everything in our power to ensure that it is not repeated.”
The board passed the motion unanimously, and Taylor read a statement on behalf of the regents that pledged their full attention to the case moving forward.
Jenson was arraigned today at the federal courthouse in Detroit. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen released him on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
Court records show that Jenson will be represented by Farmington Hills attorney Amanda Paletz, who could not be reached for comment as of yesterday evening. His preliminary examination on the federal charges is set for March 8.
—Daily News Editor Paige Pearcy contributed to this report