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EXCLUSIVE: Secret Recording in Brown Rape Case

Friday, January 20, 2012

 

A former Brown University assistant wrestling coach secretly recordered a conversation with the lawyer representing the 24-year-old former student who was suing the school after being falsely accused of rape in 2006, revealing never before released details about settlement discussions that took place a month before an agreement was quietly reached.

In the more-than 20 minute recording obtained exclusively by GoLocalProv, Michael Burch, who coached William R. McCormick III at Brown, and J. Scott Kilpatrick, who was representing McCormick, discuss the settlement amount recommended by a mediator as Kilpatrick attempts to gauge Burch’s willingness to sign a confidentially release that would have left him unable to disparage the school, McCormick’s accuser or her father.

On the tape, Kilpatrick says Rhode Island mediator William Poore recommended $850,000 be paid to McCormick by the accuser’s father, an amount McCormick’s family believed to be too low and the accuser’s family said was too high. Poore later came back to Kilpatrick and raised the recommendation to $1,050,000, but also inquired about getting Burch to sign a release that would stop him from discussing the case any further.

“After listening to Kilpatrick’s opening statement, we now realize that there is a lot out there about Brown too; we thought that was kind of an afterthought, the case against Brown,” Kilpatrick says quoting the mediator’s conversation with the accuser’s father. “And if we’re going to settle this case, we want to settle it for Brown too. They want to make this thing go away, period.”

Brown Denies Involvement

McCormick was a freshman at Brown in 2006 when he was given a one-way ticket to his home in Wisconsin after a classmate accused of him raping her in her dorm room that fall. The accuser’s father is a Brown alumnus who is also a major donor to the school.

According to the lawsuit, the rape accusation was never reported to the police and McCormick reached a private settlement with the accuser’s lawyer that resulted in him withdrawing from school and no criminal charges being filed.

The more-than five year saga ended last December when McCormick’s federal lawsuit against his accuser and the University was dismissed after a mutual agreement was reached. The University has denied having any involvement in the settlement.

But in the recording, which took place a month before the final agreement was reached, Kilpatrick makes it clear that he believed the University would be willing to offer money.

“I told Will and I believe this to be true, I think if Brown was left on their own, I think they’d capitulate. They’d throw some money at it after Will’s deposition. Even if Will’s deposition went badly, I think they’d throw some money at it. He said ‘how much is that?’ I said I don’t know, maybe it’s $50,000, maybe it’s $75,000, maybe it’s $100,000, maybe it’s $200,000, but it’s something.”

In a statement to GoLocalProv, University spokeswoman Marisa Quinn again denied the University made a contribution to the settlement.

“I can tell you that the University is not a party to the settlement reached in the McCormick case,” Quinn said. “It has made no contribution to the settlement, nor has it made any accommodation to either party in an effort to reach an agreement. Any statement to the contrary is false. The University acted appropriately and stood ready at all times during the litigation to prove in court that it had acted appropriately and in accordance with applicable laws, policies and procedures.”

“She’ll be dangerous”

Burch represented McCormick during disciplinary hearings at Brown following the rape accusation in 2006 and has spoken to various media outlets about the way the case was handled. He claims Brown used its power and influence to unfairly dismiss McCormick.

In the recording, Burch explains to Kilpatrick that he does not believe not signing a confidentiality release would prevent a settlement from taking place, to which Kilpatrick tells Burch that he disagrees. The wide-ranging conversation begins with Kilpatrick explaining that he hoped to find a mediator that wasn’t from Rhode Island.

“I didn’t actually want to use [William Poore] for this case because he was from Rhode Island,” Kilpatrick says. “I wanted to get it to Boston or somewhere else. We tried to get it to the mediator who mediated a lot of the church sex abuse cases.”

Kilpatrick goes on to explain that he sat with both the accuser and the accuser’s father, complimenting them on their behavior during the meeting, but also making note of concerns he had over the accuser.

“She’ll be dangerous, she’ll be dangerous if she testifies,” he says.

Later in the conversation, Kilpatrick explains that signing a “mutual release” would mean two things for Burch: 1) It would release him from any litigation involving the accuser’s family or the University; and 2) “You don’t say anything bad about each other.”

Burch Responds

Burch never signed the release.

In an interview with GoLocalProv, Burch called McCormick a “very brave soul” for fighting against the University over the last several years.

“I think we are all indebted to William McCormick for standing up and fighting as long and hard as he did,” Burch said.

Kilpatrick did not wish to comment for this story.

Editor’s Note: GoLocalProv’s policy is to not release the names of those who claim they were sexually assaulted, which is why the names of the accuser and her father are not included in this story.

Timeline

September 2006 - William McCormick is accused of raping a freshman in her dorm room. A police report is not filed and the McCormick is handed a one-way ticket home to Wisconsin. Assistant wrestling coach Michael Burch serves as advisor to McCormick.

October 2006 - McCormick withdraws from school after reaching an agreement with the accuser's father.

September 2009 - McCormick's lawyer Scott Kilpatrick files a federal lawsuit against accuser and Brown University.

November 2011 - Kilpatrick reaches out to Burch to see if he would be willing to sign a confidentiality release.

December 2011 - Agreement is reached between McCormick, the accuser and the school.

January 2012 - Burch releases secretly taped conversation between he and Kilpatrick.
 

 

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