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Attorneys Ask Michigan AG to Review Student Sexual Assault

April 10, 2020
 
 

Attorneys representing a student on the University of Michigan track team have requested the state’s attorney general review a county prosecutor’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against another athlete who the student, Kellen Smith, said admitted to sexually abusing her in her sleep.

The request, announced in a press release Thursday, was made by Genie Eardley, a Michigan-based plaintiff's attorney, and Laura Dunn, a nationally recognized victims’ rights attorney.

Blake Washington, who competes on the Michigan track and field team, allegedly admitted to Smith that he sexually assaulted her “at least three times” in April 2017 after she had fallen asleep while studying, the release said. Washington was found responsible for the assaults through Michigan’s Title IX process, which investigates reports of campus sexual misconduct through the Office of Institutional Equity, or OIE, but he remained on the track team and Smith continued to see him “virtually every day,” she said in the release.

Rick Fitzgerald, the university's assistant vice president of public affairs, declined to comment on the case.

It is against Michigan policy to discuss OIE investigations, he said in an email. The university will only release OIE reports of university policy violations after a formal request through the Freedom of Information Act.

Smith's case was brought in 2018 to the University of Michigan Police Department and then presented to Amy Reiser, an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office, but Reiser told UMPD that Smith “was sleeping at the time of the assault, has no recollection of the assault and therefore, independent of the suspect’s admission and/or confession, there is no corpus,” according to the release.

“While far too few campus sexual assaults are prosecuted, it is shocking to see that the perpetrator twice confessed, once in writing, and that the prosecutor still declined to bring the case against an UM student-athlete,” Dunn said in the release.

Dunn and Eardley said they sent a letter to Dana Nessel, the state’s attorney general, requesting that she review Reiser’s decision not to criminally prosecute Washington. Nessel’s office had not yet received the request Thursday, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokesperson for the office, wrote in an email.

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