Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Former MSU PD deputy chief Valerie O'Brien returns from paid leave after more than a year

September 11, 2020
<p>A Michigan State Police car on Aug. 23, 2019 in East Lansing.  </p>

A Michigan State Police car on Aug. 23, 2019 in East Lansing.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Former deputy chief of the MSU Police Department Valerie O’Brien returned from her paid administrative leave after more than a year, MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant confirmed on Wednesday.

O’Brien returned on Sept. 8 as a Captain for Special Projects, with the department, MSU PD Public Information Officer Chris Rozman confirmed on Wednesday. 

MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant said that O’Brien was put on leave on April 3, 2019 and her husband and former MSU PD Detective JJ Bradac was placed on leave Feb. 1, 2019.

The two are married and were both placed on paid leave in 2019 "pending a Title IX investigation," Guerrant said Wednesday.

Bradac is no longer employed by MSU PD or the university, Rozman said.

O'Brien as a detective was involved in a 2014 Title IX investigation into Larry Nassar's sexual abuse, according to Michigan Department of the Attorney General. The investigation cleared him of survivor Amanda Thomashow's report that he sexually assaulted her.

Both Guerrant or Rozman weren't able to comment on why Bradac was no longer employed with MSU PD and why O’Brien was able to return. 

Guerrant confirmed that both paid leaves were classified as paid suspensions.

According to a 2018 report from the Michigan Department of the Attorney General, O’Brien was assigned to Thomashow’s case. The report states that O’Brien failed to “consult additional experts, despite being asked to do so” by Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Debra Rousseau Martinez. 

According to a previous report from the Lansing State Journal, the department submitted a warrant for criminal sexual conduct following O'Brien's investigation, but prosecutors denied the charges twice verbally and once in an email. 

“There is no evidence Detective O’Brien ever consulted an outside expert or even conducted an independent criminal investigation,” the AG office report from 2018 said. 

O’Brien oversaw the department’s investigative division. The same division handles specialized issues including relationship violence and sexual misconduct, behavioral threat assessments and violent crimes.

It also states O’Brien hasn’t explained her investigative decisions, and that “she was unwilling to be interviewed by our investigators.”

Thomashow’s 2014 case was a major part of the ex-dean Lou Anna K. Simon’s case, which recently ended in a dismissal.

Mid-February of 2019 an investigation occurred involving multiple department employees for possible violations of the university’s relationship violence and sexual misconduct policy. In March of 2019, the Lansing State Journal confirmed the ongoing investigation.

On May 14, 2020, over a year after the pair was put on administrative leave, Guerrant said in an email to The State News that there was, “No new information to share”. 

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