University Lied To Girl's Parents, Other Students

POSTED: 10:41 am PDT July 16, 2007

YPSILANTI, Mich. -- The president of Eastern Michigan University has been fired, months after officials at the school publicly ruled out foul play in the death of a student who actually had been raped and killed in her dormitory room.

During a meeting held on the phone Sunday night, the Board of Regents voted to fire John Fallon, months after top university officials were accused of covering up Laura Dickinson's rape and slaying.

School officials publicly ruled out foul play in the death of the 22-year-old student, despite evidence that would later lead to murder charges.

Fallon confirmed that he was fired Sunday evening by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, The Ann Arbor News reported.
Fallon said the termination letter was delivered by courier Sunday night to the president's house.

It did not state a reason for the firing, he said. The letter stated that the board had voted unanimously to terminate his employment contract effective Sunday -- two years after his five-year contract took effect.

Fallon said Sunday that he would comment at length in the days ahead on his termination and tenure.

"As a citizen, I am disappointed in this hastily called meeting, without any opportunity to be present or to respond," Fallon told the newspaper. "I have a story to tell and intend to tell it."

Fallon's dismissal follows an independent law firm investigation and U.S. Department of Education report, both of which found that the 23,500-student public university violated the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose campus security information.

Students on campus said they agreed.

"The fact that I had night classes at the time. I didn't know what was going on. I felt safe walking around on the cell phone," EMU student Lisa Faumann said.

The body of Laura Dickinson, 22, was discovered Dec. 15 in her dorm room.

At the time, university officials told Dickinson's parents and the media that she died of asphyxiation but that there was no sign of foul play, despite evidence to the contrary. It wasn't until another Eastern student was arrested in late February and charged with murder that her family and fellow students learned she had been raped and killed.

The accused student, Orange Taylor III, of Southfield, has pleaded not guilty to murder and criminal sexual conduct charges in Dickinson's death. He is scheduled for trial Oct. 15.

The Board of Regents will be holding a 2:30 p.m. meeting Monday.
Dickinson's father said school officials accused of covering up his daughter's rape and killing should expect to be fired.

Although the university's board sacked Fallon, that may not be the end of it. The board planned to meet again Monday.
The status of the school's vice president of student affairs and public safety director still hasn't been determined.