Coleman calls delay in crime report a 'serious failure'
President Mary Sue Coleman today called the six-month delay in appropriately handling a suspicion of child pornography "a serious failure on the part of our institution."
Coleman's statement accompanies the release today of a detailed report on the six-month delay in response to the suspicion that a medical resident possessed child pornography on a flash drive he brought to work at the Health System.
Coleman said the findings indicate an attorney in the Health System Legal Office "acted improperly when the incident was reported to her.
"A university attorney must not assume the lead role in investigating a potential crime of this nature. This is solely the responsibility of the police," Coleman said.
The attorney worked briefly for the university (Feb. 21-June 10, 2011), though her departure was not connected to this specific matter.
The incident was first reported in May, but it was not properly reported to the Department of Public Safety until November. Once investigated, the medical resident, Stephen Jenson, was charged with four counts of possession of child pornography.
He was dismissed from U-M's residency program Dec. 16 and is due back in court for a hearing Feb. 16. There is no evidence that the accused personally took any of the pictures, and there is no indication of illegal or inappropriate behavior with patients. Some of the images match those in national databases for law enforcement investigations.
Both Coleman's statement and the management response to the recommendations make it clear the delay was not solely the fault of one attorney.
"The auditor's review has revealed a significant breakdown across a number of units responsible for the safety, security and well-being of people on our campus," Coleman said. "The review also shows there was poor judgment on the part of several people who could have done more in May. … There can be no delay in reporting wrongdoing."
The internal review was conducted by senior staff in the Office of University Audits. The report is signed by Carol Senneff, executive director of University Audits, and Sherry Cogswell, senior audit manager. The University Audits document includes a review of what caused the delayed response to the incident, a detailed timeline of events and a series of 11 specific recommendations.
Also included is a management response in which university leaders accept responsibility for the errors in reporting the crime as well as the failure to report the possible risk to patient safety, and commit themselves to implementing the recommendations and correcting the problems.
"Management accepts the recommendations and is committed to pursue the recommendations with strengthened policies, procedures, and training to prevent future lapses in protecting the safety and security of the patients we serve and the entire campus community," the management response says.
That response is signed by the three vice presidents who have management responsibility for the units involved: Ora Pescovitz, executive vice president for medical affairs (Health System); Tim Slottow, executive vice president and chief financial officer (Department of Public Safety); Suellyn Scarnecchia, vice president and general counsel (Health System Legal Office).
Perhaps the most sweeping recommendation is the final one of the report. It calls for the university to bring in an outside expert to examine and address the cultural changes necessary to bridge the cultural divide that separates Hospital Security and the Department of Public Safety. "Without a culture shift there will continue to be breakdowns in the effectiveness of the organization as a whole."
The management response says university leaders are committed to a "full assessment of the working relationship and operational issues" with Hospital Security and DPS "in order to address significant cultural and management issues." The university is committed to bringing the expert on board by April 1.
Among the other recommendations are these:
• Develop an extensive set of common guidelines and protocols for reporting security incidents throughout the university.
• Raise awareness of the different patient, employee and student privacy rules.
• Foster better understanding and sensitivity of duty to report requirements.
• Review the use of 911 triage and dispatch.
• Create a shared communication system that facilitates accountability and cooperation.
• Formally debrief on major security incidents.
• Develop ongoing team-building training programs.
• Review the reporting lines and communication structure of police and security units.
• Consider a DPS liaison officer within the Health System.
• Develop cross-functional teams.