© 2024 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Dem-affiliated county clerk whose son was expelled for alleged rape used 'political' sway to have him reinstated: Lawsuit
Screenshot of Ingham County website (pictured: Barb Byrum)

Dem-affiliated county clerk whose son was expelled for alleged rape used 'political' sway to have him reinstated: Lawsuit

A new lawsuit alleges that a Democrat-affiliated county clerk in Michigan and her husband, a detective with the county sheriff's department, used their "local political influence" to have their son reinstated at school even after he had been expelled for reportedly raping a female classmate on school grounds.

Late last month, the mother of the victim filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that her daughter's civil rights had been violated after Ingham County clerk Barbara Byrum — who previously served three terms as a Democrat in the Michigan House of Representatives — and her husband, Brian Delany, a detective with the Ingham County Sheriff's Office, managed to persuade the Mason Public School District to reinstate their son despite the alleged rape.

According to the lawsuit, Byrum and Delany's son, identified as B.D., attempted a sexual assault on a girl, identified only as E.M., on two separate occasions in May 2022 when both were in the eighth grade.

On the first occasion, the two were sitting at a table in English class when B.D. pulled E.M.'s chair closer to him as though he wanted to tell her a secret. But rather than whisper in her ear, B.D. allegedly stuck his hand down E.M.'s sweatpants and underwear and "digitally penetrated her vagina without consent," the lawsuit said. E.M. attempted to thwart the attack by claiming she was on her period, but B.D. was not deterred until the bell rang, it added.

A few days later, B.D. allegedly "once again pulled up a chair and tried to perform the same act, rubbing E.M.’s upper/inner thigh on the outside of her pants," the lawsuit claimed. That time, E.M. walked away and eventually reported the alleged attacks to the assistant principal, prompting a law enforcement and Title IX investigation.

The Title IX investigation ultimately determined that B.D.'s allegedly criminal behavior was "severe, pervasive and objectively offensive" to such an extent that E.M. had been denied her civil right to equal access to the education system. As a result, B.D. was expelled for his ninth-grade year in accordance with state law, which demands automatic and permanent expulsion in cases in which "a pupil ... commits a criminal sexual conduct in a school building or on school grounds ... against another pupil in the same school district."

At some point, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Garcia also imposed a personal protection order against B.D., claiming that he posed "a credible threat to the physical safety of E.M. and interferes with E.M.’s place of education or engaging in conduct that impairs her educational relationship or environment." Whether that PPO was put in place as part of the conclusion of the Title IX investigation is unclear.

In any case, by 10th grade, B.D. was reinstated in the district and began attending Mason High School, which E.M. also attends. As such, E.M. regularly sees B.D. "in the hallways, at lunch, and during extracurricular activities at school," the lawsuit claims, despite a "no contact order" for the two students.

Not only has the no-contact order apparently failed to prevent the two from coming into contact with one another, but it has actually further violated E.M.'s rights by implying that "she was equally blameworthy for the incident in the 8th grade" and by restricting her freedom to move about the school as if she had done something wrong, the lawsuit said.

The PPO imposed by Judge Garcia was renewed at about the same time the lawsuit was filed and remains in place today. The suit is seeking $75,000 in damages as well as other costs and fees.

The lawsuit named as defendants the Mason Public School District, MHS Principal Lance Delbridge, MHS Assistant Principal Nicholas Toodzio, and the boy's parents, Byrum and Delany. Byrum and Delany "were acting under their unique positions of power when they conspired with Mason Public School District and Board of Education" to have B.D. reinstated, it said.

Attorney Brandon Wolfe, who is representing E.M.'s mother — listed on the lawsuit as E.M.'s next of friend — called the case "a miscarriage of justice." "How can you possibly say you’re an advocate for survivors, but then force your kid to basically go back to the same school where there’s a victim of sexual assault?" Wolfe said in reference to Byrum and Delany.

When reached for comment, Byrum once told the Lansing City Pulse, "There are minors involved, so no names should be mentioned." She did not respond to another request for comment. The outlet was unable to contact Delany for comment.

A quick look at Byrum's campaign website reveals just how well connected she is in Michigan Democrat circles. Not only does the site brag that Byrum was either the chair or vice chair of "the Democratic Caucus" from 2007 until 2010, but it also features a photo of Byrum alongside Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor and the current secretary of energy for the Biden administration. In several other photos, Byrum is wearing pins referencing LGBTQ pride and transgenderism. In the main photo, she is wearing a cross necklace.

As clerk, Byrum is the chief elections official of Ingham County, the county in which most of the capital city of Lansing is located. She also serves alongside Democrat Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on the Michigan Election Security Commission.

The Midwesterner reached out to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and Benson — all prominent Michigan Democrats — seeking comment about the case but received no response.

In response to a request for comment from Blaze News, Gary Kinzer, superintendent of Mason Public Schools, provided a letter addressing multiple district controversies. For this reason, we are including only those statements that pertain to this particular case.

Kinzer said: "I understand the community’s concern and interest regarding the federal lawsuit. As this is an active legal matter, the district cannot speak about the details of this case.

"The Michigan School Code provides guidance to all public school districts regarding expulsion and reinstatement of students. Mason Public Schools and the Mason Public Schools Board of Education utilize this guidance in all expulsion and reinstatement situations, including this recent case."

Mark Ostrowski, an attorney representing the district, also issued a statement: "It is not appropriate or permissible under federal law to discuss the details of a Title IX investigation or pending litigation involving minor students. Without discussing the specifics of this case, it can be said that the school district has an obligation to provide an appropriate education to all of its students and there are specific statutes governing and limiting the discipline applicable to each situation. In the present case, the school district acted in compliance with the applicable law and plaintiff’s lawsuit against the school district and its administrators has no merit."

Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!

Want to leave a tip?

We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Want to join the conversation?
Already a subscriber?
Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News. She has a Ph.D. in Shakespearean drama, but now enjoys writing about religion, sports, and local criminal investigations. She loves God, her husband, and all things Michigan State.
@cortneyweil →