‘I was raped’: Former Eastern Michigan student shares what happened when he reported assault

Survivor says Title IX Department persuaded him not to file formal complaint

A former Eastern Michigan University student is coming forward to share the story of how he says he was treated by the university after being sexually assaulted in his dorm room. Jacob Goldberg is one of 23 people involved in a lawsuit filed on behalf of those who said they were sexually attacked. They claim the university disregarded or discouraged them from reporting their attacks.

YPSILANTI, Mich. – A former Eastern Michigan University student is coming forward to share the story of how he says he was treated by the university after being sexually assaulted in his dorm room.

Jacob Goldberg is one of 23 people involved in a lawsuit filed on behalf of those who said they were sexually attacked. They claim the university disregarded or discouraged them from reporting their attacks.

“I still have nightmares,” Goldberg said. “I very much am worried about other students there.”

Goldberg said he always knew he was going to attend Eastern Michigan University. Both of his parents went there. He was excited to move into Wise Hall and begin the next chapter of his life.

“I felt like I had a new lease on life in school. I was making a lot of friends,” Goldberg said.

In his sophomore year, things changed dramatically. Another student and friend started to make advances toward him.

“I told her I didn’t want anything to do with her like that. I wanted to be friends,” Goldberg said.

He thought the issue was solved.

Goldberg has dealt with an anxiety disorder for years, and he took an Ambien to help him sleep. He said his dorm friends were aware of his routine.

“I like having people over. It makes me comfortable. It makes me feel safe, and I’m, like, ‘Hey, I’m going to take my meds. Just let yourself out in 20 minutes or so,’” Goldberg said.

December 2019 assault

It worked until December 2019. Goldberg said he took his Ambien pills, and then he was assaulted.

“I was raped. She took advantage of me while I was on my medication,” Goldberg said.

He said the attack came from the same person whose advances he’d rejected previously.

According to court documents, he was “unable to stop (the woman) due to the dizzying effects of his medication.” It also said there were “several attempts” made on him.

Court records state, “the morning after the assault, the accused admitted to taking advantage of John Doe, 24, while he was under the effects of his medication and told him that she felt no remorse.”

The documents state that Goldberg felt like he was being stalked by the person who attacked him. On several occasions, the woman would wait for him in the common areas of Wise Hall, where they both lived, and confront him as he came up the stairs, the lawsuit says.

“I did my best for the rest of that year to push it aside, but she would not leave,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg reports assault next fall

The following fall, Goldberg decided to report the assault to a residential advisor. That would lead him to go to the Eastern Michigan University Police Department and the school’s Title IX department. He said he walked out of those meetings feeling like something was going to happen.

Weeks went by. Goldberg said the Title IX department persuaded him not to file a formal complaint to press charges, and instead encouraged him to file an informal complaint.

“They said that it would prove fruitless. Nothing would come from it. It would only (cause) more suffering for me,” Goldberg said.

Read: Rape survivor says Eastern Michigan University discouraged her from filing report: ‘It needs to change’

It’s a decision he regrets. At the time, he felt alone, he said. A few weeks later, he looked out his window and saw a protest.

“One of the demonstrators with the megaphone said, ‘How many of you have been assaulted on campus?’ And it was disgusting how many hands I saw raised. And it was the reality of the situation set in at that moment -- that I am not unique,” Goldberg said.

It was then that Goldberg decided to join 23 others in a lawsuit against the university.

“The only reason I’m doing it, because I know that I’m going to be helping other people, as well,” Goldberg said. “I know others who have had similar situations and haven’t found the strength to be able to come forward with it. It’s not easy.”

Read: New bills would expand statute of limitations for sexual assault survivors in Michigan

Eastern Michigan University responds

Local 4 reached out to Eastern Michigan University, and the school confirmed it is in mediation talks for a settlement with Goldberg and the 23 others who have filed against the university.

Below are a series of statements from EMU’s Vice President for Communications, Walter Kraft, in response to questions sent by Local 4.

Any comment on his allegations?

In September 2020, after being notified of John Doe 24′s allegations, the University’s Title IX Coordinator reached out to John Doe 24 to provide support and to set up a meeting. The Title IX Coordinator met with John Doe 24 on multiple occasions and offered support services and academic accommodations, and explained John Doe 24′s option of pursuing a formal grievance process. John Doe 24 made the choice not to pursue a Title IX investigation against his alleged assailant, which he had every right to do. The Title IX Office continued to offer support to John Doe 24, including by assisting him with academic accommodations.

In light of the seriousness of John Doe 24′s allegations, though, EMU Police conducted its investigation. Following its investigation, EMU Police referred the matter to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office declined to bring charges against John Doe 24′s alleged assailant.

Reaction to the statement that, “Title IX officials told him a formal investigation would prove fruitless and was persuaded into pursuing an informal resolution?”

The University vehemently denies this allegation. It runs counter to everything that the Title IX Office stands for. The Office is staffed by trained professionals who have committed their careers to support survivors of sexual assault. They have chosen this incredibly difficult line of work to help students in crisis. That work includes providing all students in crisis with support and information about their options, including whether to choose to pursue a Title IX investigation, report to the police and/or, if they chose, deciding not to pursue an investigation. That is exactly what happened in this case. The University’s Title IX Coordinator does not try to persuade students that any particular choice is right – the Title IX Office provides the University’s adult students with information about their options and gives those students the right to make a meaningful choice about what course of action is best for them.

Additionally, as other news organizations have reported, the information provided by the University in response to FOIA requests makes clear that allegations about “persuasion” are simply not true. The truth is that John Doe 24 considered his options and made a reasoned decision that a formal Title IX process was not right for him at that time. For instance, after they met in September 2020, the University’s Title IX coordinator wrote to John Doe 24:

I explained the formal grievance process, which involves an investigation and hearing, to assess and determine whether [REDACTED] could be found responsible for a violation of the Title IX policy based on your report of sexual assault and stalking. You stated that, at present time, you did not wish to engage in the formal grievance process.

After they met again in November, the Title IX Coordinator wrote:

I re-explained the formal grievance process, which involves an investigation and hearing, to assess and determine whether [REDACTED] could be found responsible for violation of the Title IX policy based on your report of sexual assault and stalking. You stated that you did not wish to engage in the formal grievance process or file a formal complaint initiating the grievance process.

Anything else you would like to mention?

Contrary to some of the allegations, the University is steadfast in its commitment to respond to reports of sexual misconduct. Any accusation that the University covered up crimes of sexual assault is false.

There is no place for sexual assault on or off Eastern’s campus and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it from happening. Our staff in law enforcement, Title IX, student affairs, and elsewhere work tirelessly every day to try to create a safe and supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff.

Read: More investigations coverage


The Sexual Assault Hotline is completely confidential and available 24/7 to call at 855-864-2374. Click here to see more resources that are available.



About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.