Michigan regents fire opera singer accused of sexual assault

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan Regents approved the firing of music Professor David Daniels, a renowned opera singer, making him the first UM faculty member to be stripped of tenure in 60 years.

Thursday's dismissal comes after an internal UM investigation showed that Daniels harassed nearly two dozen students, solicited some for sex, sent them nude photos and more, according to the university. 

David Daniels

Former graduate student Andrew Lipian filed a federal lawsuit against UM, alleging that Daniels sexually assaulted and harassed him and that the university failed to enforce its policies against such conduct.

A Texas grand jury indicted Daniels and his husband, William Scott Walters, last summer in the sexual assault of an incapacitated man in 2010. 

Earlier this week, UM President Mark Schlissel had recommended the firing of Daniels: "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."

Documents obtained in August by The Detroit News through the Freedom of Information Act showed that UM officials pushed to initiate dismissal proceedings against Daniels after determining he “engaged in a pattern of behavior that is harassing, abusive and exploitive of University of Michigan students.”

Before the board approved his firing Thursday, several people spoke out in support of him, including one who didn't believe the allegations and another who said Daniels was targeted because he is gay.

Morgan McCaul, a UM student who was sexually abused by former Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar, tweeted that she couldn't believe those who had rallied behind Daniels in a last-ditch effort to save his position.

"Hearing speakers exalt former @UMich professor David Daniels and call the allegations against him 'manufactured' during a Board of Regents meeting," McCaul tweeted. "I am horrified."