Eastern Michigan University President, Two Others Fired Over Alleged Murder Cover-up

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 16, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, "BIG STORY" HOST: The "Big Development" now on a story that we've been keeping close tabs on for over a month. The parents of an Eastern Michigan University student did not know that their daughter had been raped and killed in her dorm room when they laid her to rest. Her college did, but kept silent for months to likely protect the college's reputation. Now the reputation of the school's top brass is ruined. The president along with two other officials have just been fired. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy has more and spoke to the father of the murdered student today.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, "BIG STORY" CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And officials at EMU put this guy through hell, literally lying to him at months about how his daughter died. Now, many of those officials are paying a price.


KENNEDY (VOICE-OVER): This student lost her life. Now the president of her college is losing his job for allegedly covering up her murder to protect his school's image.

Are you glad they are finally taking your daughter's murder seriously?

ROBERT DICKINSON, FATHER OF MURDERED EMU STUDENT: We're feeling good that EMU is taking positive steps towards resolving the problems that came up because of this.

KENNEDY: Last December, 22-year-old Laura Dickinson was found dead in her dorm room at Eastern Michigan University. For months, President John Fallon insisted there was "no reason to suspect foul play," even though college officials knew she had been raped and suffocated.

Late today, EMU's Board of Regents confirmed they have fired Fallon and let go Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Vick and Public Safety Director Cindy Hall.

Did the university fail in its duties here?

THOMAS W. SIDLIK, EMU BOARD OF REGENTS: Since they violated federal law, yes, they did fail.

KENNEDY: Police have charged fellow student Orange Amir Taylor with Dickinson's rape and murder. Still, Taylor roamed free for months and EMU students were outraged they were not informed a killer was on the loose.

How does the university regain the trust of its students now?

SIDLIK: Well, we can regain the trust of our students by creating a very safe campus environment.

KENNEDY: Dickinson's father says nothing can bring back his daughter, but he's glad EMU has finally learned a lesson.

What was the lesson in your mind?

DICKINSON: Eastern did not have the right policies, the right procedures in place. And when it came time to making decisions and choices, they made the wrong one.


KENNEDY: He says that wrong choice literally snowballed into months of deception. He says he now plans to devote his life to making students safe and to make sure, John, other colleges don't make the same mistake.

GIBSON: This so breathtaking. How could a college administrator, who has to be one of the most educated, intelligent people working in the country, decide that you could cover up a murder?

KENNEDY: You know, these guys — all college presidents today, all they do is try to make money for their colleges. That is their job. And this guy is literally the PR guy for college and to put him in charge of making a decision of whether they're going to admit it's a murder or not was probably the wrong decision.

GIBSON: Did he think that he was going to be able to keep from the parents and the public that this was a murder and that he allowed a murderer to roam free on the campus? Did he think he was going to be able to cover that up for any substantial length of time?

KENNEDY: You know, this happened in December. I imagine they thought they were going to make it through a few months and then get to summer and it wouldn't be as big of a deal, but now it's much more of a big deal than anybody could have foreseen.

GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy, thank you very much.

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