Attorney representing women suing EMU over alleged sex assaults says women were put in peril

Posted at 11:17 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 14:13:03-04

(WXYZ) — The number of women joining a civil lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University and countless others over an alleged cover-up of sexual assaults on campus is growing.

For the women hoping for justice and change in culture on EMU's campus, the journey to get there may be long, especially now that EMU is firing back and claiming it is not their fault.

"They sent me there knowing that I was going to be safe and a few months after I got to EMU I was assaulted," one woman said.

Related: 'Enough is enough.' New lawsuit to be filed in Eastern Michigan sex assault case

In all, 34 women are standing together in a battle against Eastern Michigan University, EMU Police, the Title IX Department at EMU and EMU-sanctioned fraternities. They claim they were sexually assaulted on or near campus and were not protected or even believed.

The newest case was filed by attorney Todd Flood, who has seven new women.

"They told the same story about how it is that they were persuaded or convinced that there wasn't enough evidence to go forward, or the police are not going to do anything about this because it's going to be your word versus his word," Flood said.

Many of these alleged rapes happened at two EMU-sanctioned frat houses and Flood says the pressure to silence these women was strong.

Related: EMU says it lacked 'sufficient knowledge' of sex assault claims of several students

"You're going up against the Greek life, they have powerful resources there to convince others to come in and testify against you," he said. "I saw the pain that so many women went through they did the right thing they went to EMU, EMU PD they went to Title IX they reported like they were supposed to and Eastern did not care Eastern swept their assault aside.

Flood says the culture on campus was like open season on young women.

"They hosted parties and put minors in peril and put the peer pressure on them to drink and become incapacitated," Flood said.

Related: Lawsuit alleges Eastern Michigan University 'turned a blind eye' to sexual assaults

Carolyn Clifford sat down with eight women who are part of the civil lawsuit. One young woman claims in the lawsuit she was drugged, raped and did not know her attacker. She says she reached out for help almost immediately.

"I did go to Title IX and they actually opened a case, but I think they only opened the case because another girl was involved with me," she said.

She says her case was dragged out for a full year and the student who sexually assaulted her was allowed to graduate.

"They had more than enough evidence. I even went to the Ypsilanti Police Department and did a whole thing there was at the hospital and got my rape kit and everything," she said.

EMU released an official statement. It reads in part, "Our response does not dispute or challenge any survivor's allegation that they suffered a sexual assault. It focuses on the important legal distinctions between what the plaintiffs' counsel claims are the University's responsibilities in these cases and our actual responsibilities under federal law (Title IX)."

There are more than a dozen criminal defendants who have been charged with rape, including Dustyn Durbin, a former EMU student who is charged with 10 rapes.

"I want to see new policies, I want to see change, I want to see people fired and not just doing it for the paycheck," one woman said.