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

Survivor is one of 24 people involved in lawsuit

Did Eastern Michigan University officials disregard reports of sexual assault and discourage victims from reporting their attacks?

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Did Eastern Michigan University officials disregard reports of sexual assault and discourage victims from reporting their attacks?

Last week, Eastern Michigan University agreed to enter into mediation with 24 individuals suing the college for failing them after they reported being sexually attacked.

One of those survivors is sharing her story with Local 4. It takes a lot to go public and share a story of rape, but Danielle Dunbar said her story needs to be heard.

“I still am struggling with a lot of the PTSD and the social anxiety,” Dunbar said. “How do you tell your family on Christmas that you were raped two days before? That’s not something that I wanted to do.”

Dunbar’s story starts when she was visiting friends at Eastern Michigan university in December of 2014.

“It wasn’t even a party. I mean, it was my friend, her boyfriend and maybe, like, five other people and I was literally just there to hang out with my friend,” Dunbar said.

Read: Fraternity at Eastern Michigan University sued to stop parties

Dunbar said Dalton Brosnan sexually attacked her inside the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house. Brosnan is currently facing sexual assault charges in the case.

“I remember telling him to stop. I mean, it’s like, your worst nightmare of being paralyzed and having no control over your body,” Dunbar said. “He wouldn’t look at me. He was just taking my clothes off and then the assault itself happened and that was how I lost my virginity.”

“The report process was really difficult,” Dunbar said. “They basically told me that it wasn’t necessarily worth pursuing. It was his first. His first offense, he had never gotten in trouble for anything else.”

In court documents, it states Brosnan sent a series of text messages to Jane Doe No. 12, where he apologized at least eight times. In one message stating, “Hey, I am so sorry about last night. Seriously, like, I don’t know what happened.”

According to the lawsuit, Eastern Michigan University did not help. The Title IX department told Dunbar, “When it comes to alcohol and sex it is a complicated topic.” Making students believe that if you are intoxicated, consent can be given.

“And to have them tell you that it’s a gray area because of alcohol. I mean, one of the first things you learn about rape is that you can’t consent if there’s alcohol involved,” Dunbar said. “It was a lot more re-traumatizing and a lot more difficult to even want to keep pursuing these charges and or to have him be held accountable. It was, it was a lot of hoops for me to jump through. And that should not be how it is when you’re reporting an assault. It’s already hard enough to do.”

Dunbar said she’s not alone. According to the lawsuit she is involved in, 23 others have said their sexual assaults were covered up by the school.

“I am scared for people that attend that school. I am. I am fearful that this isn’t going to change and that’s why I’m in this lawsuit. That’s why I’m speaking publicly about this, because it needs to change. How many more people need to get hurt before EMU puts a stop to all the rapes that are happening on their campus?”

Last year, 10 women reached a settlement with Delta Tau Delta over allegations of a series of sexual assaults took place involving the organization. That settlement is confidential.

Complete Local 4 Defenders coverage

Eastern Michigan University released the following response before this story aired

Question: Status of mediation/what’s next:

Answer: The court discussed with the parties the option of engaging in a round of mediation with plaintiffs at this stage, and we have agreed to participate. We have no information on the timing of such a process.

Question: I have interviewed Jane Doe No. 12 and will be sharing her story. If we could include a comment from EMU, that would be helpful of course.

Answer: Eastern Michigan University takes all sexual assault and sexual misconduct claims seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating incidents and providing appropriate support for the parties involved and their specific needs and concerns. The survivors who have come forward show incredible bravery in choosing to tell their stories.

As we have stated publicly numerous times, these allegations are serious and disturb us deeply. 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 and support the courageous survivors. Our staff in law enforcement, Title IX, student affairs, and elsewhere work tirelessly every day to create a safe and supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff.

Contrary to the Complaint’s allegations, the University is, and has been, steadfast in its commitment to respond to reports of sexual misconduct. Any accusation that the University covered up crimes of sexual assault is false.

The University’s answer to the lawsuit (available at the bottom of this article in PDF format ), filed with the Court on Oct. 7, 2021, provides extensive responses to the allegations made by plaintiffs. The sections regarding the University’s answers to the accusations concerning Jane Doe 12 can be found on pages 219-232, paragraphs 634-652. We encourage you to review the University’s detailed answers to the allegations in their entirety.

The key points in the University’s answer regarding Jane Doe 12 include these important points:

  • Jane Doe 12 was never an EMU student
  • The reports indicate she was allegedly raped off campus
  • When EMU Police were notified and became involved, they offered to take her to the Ypsilanti Police Department, which had jurisdiction of the matter since it occurred in the community and not on the University’s campus
  • The Ypsilanti Police Department investigated the case, sent it to Prosecutor, and Prosecutor did not press charges
  • The University’s Title IX Office also investigated the allegations and found the assailant responsible

The University took aggressive action, even though it was a non-student complainant and the reported rape occurred in the community and not on campus.

EMU takes all sexual assault, and sexual misconduct claims seriously and is committed to the thorough investigation of these incidents and providing appropriate support for the parties involved and their specific needs and concerns.

If you have any information or wish to report any incident of sexual assault or misconduct, please contact EMU Police at 734-487-1222 or dps_questions@emich.edu, or file an incident report with the EMU Title IX Office by clicking here.

The Sexual Assault Hotline is completely confidential and available 24/7 to call at 855-864-2374.

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.