Attorney says UM sexual assault settlement betrays his client

Sep 16, 2015

The University of Michigan has reached a settlement with a male student it once expelled, throwing out its original ruling that he had non-consensual sex with a female student. The attorney representing the unnamed plaintiff has blasted the settlement and the school’s original investigation. Current State speaks with attorney Douglas Fierberg about university investigations of sexual misconduct.

Earlier this month, there was an important development in a story that has roiled the University of Michigan and received national coverage. After the university had earlier ruled that a student had violated the school’s sexual conduct policy, administrators announced they were throwing out the ruling. It had reached a settlement with the defendant. It would throw out the ruling if former student Drew Sterrett agreed not to return to the school or to disparage it.

The university’s investigation into a complaint involving Mr. Sterrett concluded he had non-consensual sex with a female classmate in 2012. In accordance with federal Title 9 guidelines/policy, the university conducted an investigation and later expelled him. Police and the courts were not involved.

Sterrett and his legal representatives later sued the university, claiming his constitutional rights were violated. That lawsuit, filed last year, led to the settlement.

Current State talks with attorney Douglas Fierberg, who represented the unnamed plaintiff in the case. Fierberg has blasted the settlement, saying the University of Michigan “turned its back on, blindsided and betrayed” his client. He calls the university’s handling of the case “abusive.”