Friday, September 29, 2023

MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum calls for investigation of Tucker accuser leak

September 13, 2023
Trustee Dianne Byrum
Trustee Dianne Byrum —

Michigan State University Trustee Dianne Byrum has called on the university to "thoroughly investigate" allegations that the identity of the woman accusing football coach Mel Tucker of sexual harassment was leaked to the press.

The ongoing investigation into Tucker's conduct is being conducted by MSU's Office of Institutional Equity, the university does not publicly release the names of victims

But, Brenda Tracy, the rape survivor and advocate who is accusing Tucker of harassing her while she was consulting for his team, said Tuesday she was forced to come forward because her identity was leaked to the media before the investigation could be completed

In a written statement released Wednesday afternoon, Byrum said she is "disturbed and outraged by recent reports indicating the name of a claimant in a sexual harassment investigation was intentionally released in an apparent effort to retaliate against her." 

"We should unequivocally condemn attempts to silence or retaliate against victims ... we need to do everything in our power to ensure victims of sexual assault and abuse can come forward without fear or intimidation and have full confidence their identities and private information will be kept confidential," Byrum said in the statement.

She asks that MSU investigate Tracy's concern and "hold anyone who is found to have leaked or released the claimant’s name accountable."

Tracy, who alleges Tucker made sexual comments towards her and masturbated on a phone call without her consent, has not said that the leak came from inside MSU.

When asked whether she had reason to believe the leak came from someone in MSU, Byrum said "it may not be someone inside," in a text message to The State News.

She declined requests for an interview regarding her statement.

Tucker, who was suspended without pay Sunday after Tracy's allegations became public, has denied the allegations, saying the interactions were consensual.

Byrum's full statement is available below:

“I am disturbed and outraged by recent reports indicating the name of a claimant in a sexual harassment investigation was intentionally released in an apparent effort to retaliate against her. We should unequivocally condemn attempts to silence or retaliate against victims.

I call on Michigan State University to thoroughly investigate these troubling allegations and hold anyone who is found to have leaked or released the claimant’s name accountable. We need to do everything in our power to ensure victims of sexual assault and abuse can come forward without fear or intimidation and have full confidence their identities and private information will be kept confidential. In the past, MSU has not been as transparent as it should’ve been during times of crisis, and we need to learn from these painful experiences and improve if we are going to regain the trust of our Spartan Community and move forward.” 

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