The president of the University of Michigan is recommending the firing of David Daniels — a renowned opera singer and tenured professor at the prestigious college — after an internal investigation showed he harassed 20 students, solicited students for sex, sent them nude photos, and other forms of misconduct, the Detroit News reported.
The dismissal recommendation is to be considered at the school's Board of Regents virtual meeting Thursday, the paper said.
What's the background?
Graduate student Andrew Lipian filed a federal lawsuit against UM alleging Daniels sexually assaulted and harassed him — groping him, sending sexual photos and videos of himself, requesting sexual photos and videos — and that the university failed to enforce its policies against such conduct, the News said.
The paper added that last summer a Texas grand jury indicted Daniels and his husband, William Scott Walters, in the sexual assault of an incapacitated man in 2010. Samuel Schultz alleged the couple drugged and assaulted him when he was living in Houston as a 23-year-old graduate student at Rice University, the News reported.
Daniels and Walters have denied the allegations, MLive reported. More from the outlet:
MLive/The Ann Arbor News previously reported that Daniels was awarded tenure less than two months after the university received an anonymous complaint alleging he had used the dating app Grindr to offer a student money in exchange for sex. The regents unanimously approved tenure for Daniels based on multiple recommendations from students and faculty.
According to court documents filed last month in connection with a federal lawsuit, faculty members at UM's School of Music, Theatre & Dance expressed concern over the hiring of Daniels in 2015, with one expressing a need to "tell him to keep his hands off" students.
More than 20 witnesses, including students, faculty or staff, have provided firsthand accounts involving Daniels engaging in sexually suggestive communication with students, according to court documents.
What did the UM president have to say?
"I have determined that Professor Daniels' conduct is inconsistent with the character of tenure at the University of Michigan and therefore constitutes cause for dismissal..." school President Mark Schlissel wrote in a letter to be considered by the regents, according to the News. "I therefore recommend the dismissal of Professor Daniels from his tenured position at the University of Michigan, effective immediately."
Schlissel also recommended that Daniels be denied severance pay, the paper said. He was placed on paid leave from UM in 2018 after being accused of sexual assault, MLive said, adding that he earns nearly $192,000 annually.
Deborah Gordon, the attorney representing Lipian, told the News it's unfortunate UM has continued to pay Daniels.
"It is very discouraging that the University was not able to act more quickly to remove a known predator from the payroll," Gordon said. "The university had proof in August 2018 that Daniels had solicited students to perform sex acts in exchange for money."
Daniels joined UM in 2015 as a voice professor after spending his 27-year career as a professional opera singer, the paper said.
Here's a report on the situation from a year ago:
UM professor on leave youtu.be