Sports Illustrated: Latest Details in Gibbons Case May Leave Many Unanswered Questions

By D.J. Byrnes on February 15, 2014 at 4:02 pm
Former Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons |

Our old friend George Dohrmann is back on the college football grind, and this time he's sinking his teeth into something a lot meatier than a fixed 1980's football camp raffle: Brendan Gibbons' prolonged expulsion from Michigan due to a 2009 sexual assault that left — and these are Michigan's words — a preponderance of evidence in its wake.

Here's the scene from the public part of a Michigan Board of Regents meeting in 2011: 

"You don't need to travel to Penn State to find a university administration who has failed to protect the alleged victims of sexual assaults," [Dr. Douglas] Smith began. He went on to describe how in 2009 then-freshman kicker Brendan Gibbons allegedly raped another freshman student-athlete at a fraternity party. The incident was reported to campus and Ann Arbor police. The victim took a rape kit, which revealed vaginal tearing. According to a police report obtained by Smith, authorities learned that a friend of the victim was told by one of Gibbons' teammates that if the victim pressed charges "then I'm going to rape her because, [Gibbons] didn't." A short time later, the victim cut off contact with police and the case went dormant.

After outlining the alleged incident from two years before, Smith asked of Coleman and the others at the table: "Where was the university administration when it came time to protect this victim and assure her that she had the support of the administration? Where was SAPAC (the school's Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Center)? Where were the campus police? Why were neither Gibbons nor the football player who threatened to rape her brought up on charges of violating the student code of conduct?"

Let Michigan fans tell it, and Dr. Smith is a former Michigan employee who is hell-bent on the destruction of Michigan. Let me tell it, and it seems like a community do-gooder was the only one in Ann Arbor who kept this sexual assault from being swept under a rug.

And Michigan fans love to mention "charges were never pressed." This ignores the nature of most sexual assaults. Smith, on his website, says Taylor Lewan was the one responsible for threatening the victim:

Shortly after the woman reported the rape, she began to receive threats from Gibbons roommate and fellow football player, Taylor Lewan (now an All-American), that he would rape her again if she pressed charges against Gibbons. 

The threats were reported by two other football players to the Office of Student Affairs who reported them to the University police. The University police did a “wellness check” on the young woman[9] and met with Taylor Lewan. They warned Taylor Lewan not to threaten the woman again and that he might face criminal charges[10]. No criminal charges were ever filed by the campus police. 

Wow, after reading this, I can't imagine why a young woman wouldn't want to go through a full prosecution of a Michigan football player. Really mind-bending, huh?

Gibbons' dismissal raised many questions, most of which are still unanswered despite consistent pressure from The Michigan Daily and people like Smith. Why did the school not do something back in 2009 or, at the least, in 2011 when Smith brought the alleged crime to the attention of Coleman and others? Further, what prompted the school to finally examine an incident?

The answers to those questions and others remain outstanding in no small part because of the school's liberal interpretation of privacy laws, including the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). According to the Department of Education website, FERPA does not shield "final results of a disciplinary proceeding related to a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense," provided that "the student who is the alleged perpetrator is found to have violated the school's rules or policies."

So, Michigan, who claims its investigation and process was on the up-and-up, won't even release the date of when the investigation began. DEFINITELY NOTHING TO SEE HERE FOLKS.

The whole piece about Michigan's shameful response — Michigan's student newspaper's words — is enough to make your stomach turn. I don't even want to think of what I'd do if the victim were my daughter.

I also patiently await a 1,800 word missive from a Michigan fan telling me "I've got it all wrong," but if Michigan had it right, then I'm completely okay with being "wrong" on this issue.

Until then, I'll just leave this here:


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