ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Eight women who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a former professor at the University of Michigan have filed a lawsuit in Washtenaw County Circuit Court against the university and Bruce Conforth.
The lawsuit alleges the university failed to protect its students from who the women call a predatory professor. Katherine McMahan and Issabelle Brourman spoke publicly Monday morning about how they say Conforth sexually harassed, abused and assaulted them.
“I didn’t know what Conforth was capable of,” McMahan said, when she talked in a news conference via ZOOM Monday about her filing a Title IX report against the professor, back in 2008. She was assured that the university was taking all the necessary steps to insure that nothing like that would ever happen again.
The professor, who has not been criminally charged, taught at the university until his retirement, where more sexual assault cases allegedly took place.
One of those cases was Brourman’s. The University of Michigan said Conforth admitted to the allegations and resigned in 2017.
"Mr. Conforth admitted to allegations of sexual misconduct that were made and a separation agreement outlined his permanent removal from the university, no contact with students and other requirements. The university was prepared to initiate dismissal proceedings had he not first resigned," a spokesperson for the University of Michigan said. "The university took the necessary actions, outlined in a separation agreement, to permanently remove Mr. Conforth from the university community and restrict him from any further contact with students."
“He seized the opportunity to manipulate both of us [another survivor] by appealing to our dreams and aspirations,” Brourman said.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” Brourman said, “If I wasn’t alive, I would have never been able to confront this morally bankrupt institution that is more invested in their false reputation as 'The Leaders and Best' then in the reality of the crimes they perpetuated by silencing victims and feeding Conforth new students every semester.
”The survivors hope that changes can be made institutionally from the top on down so that no student will be put into a position where they can get assaulted by a professor. “If you hurt one of us, you hurt all of us,” Brourman said of speaking about the university, “there are thousands of survivors who will continue to point out what you have done to try and hide from your actions.
”The University of Michigan has not been a stranger to recent controversies. Earlier this month, University President Mark Schlissel was fired for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.
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The university also reached a $490M settlement earlier this month with over 1,000 people who were sexually assaulted by Dr. Robert Anderson.
"The university continues to take extraordinary measures to put critical protections in place for students and all members of our community on top of earlier protections. We continue to work with the nationally recognized consulting firm of Guidepost Solutions on additional measures," the statement to News Channel 3 said.
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