Abuse allegations at Huron Valley jail, stabbed employee shoots attacker at steakhouse, Schlissel out at U-M

Two former employees at a women's prison near Ypsilanti say they were fired after trying to report some of the abuse they witnessed inside. 

In response, they're wielding the power of an attorney and discontent from protesters to bring attention to the drama unfolding within the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in PIttsfield Charter Township.

"Just because they are inmates doesn't mean they don't get treated with dignity or respect," said Attorney Dion Webster-Cox.

"Their offices were totally ravaged and they were told they were let go, so I'm here because they came forward. I said ‘no, we’re human. We can't allow this to happen to them," she said.

Cox is representing both former employees, who say they were going public about acts of sexual abuse they witnessed within the facility. 

"Ethically, morally, and legally, I am responsible. I cannot turn my head when it comes ot injustices that are being done. If I see someone, something, someone that is helpless, that is being picked on, berated - if I turn my head, I am no better than the person who is doing the abusing," said one former employee.

Another said they saw one have sex with a maintenance worker. 

"I didn’t know the Orange is the New Black and Wentworth were going on in Michigan, I thought these were just television programs," said Webster-Cox. "We know this has happened in the past. I know in Michigan back in 2009, millions of dollars were paid out to address these allegations."

The Michigan Department of Corrections declined to comment on the pending litigation brought forth by Webster-Cox. 

They did say in a statement that "MDOC does not retaliate and has a zero tolerance for sexual harassment and violence. Our medication assisted treatment program is helping to reduce serious opioid addictions of the prisoners who come to us and helps give them a greater chance of success against their addiction when released."

On Sunday, dozens expressed disgust with the allegations. One organizer said they would not tolerate injustice toward women.

According to Webster-Cox, the whistle-blowers were retaliated against after the department learned of their intentions to inform higher authorities about mistreatment within the prison. That includes allegation the jail fostered a culture of rape as a punishment. 

Michigan long-term care facility report expected Monday

A report expected to be released by the Office of Auditor General that claims the number of people who died at long-term housing care facilities from COVID-19 during the beginning of the pandemic is higher than what the state has reported will drop today.

The report, which was requested by the chair of the Republican-led Oversight Committee in the legislature, reportedly found 30% more deaths among patients that stayed at nursing homes than what the state has reported. 

However, in an unprecedented move made by the health director, Elizabeth Hertel rebuked the report's findings prior ot its release, arguing it used different parameters for defining a death at a long-term care facility. 

The report, which is not a typical audit, did not accuse MDHHS of any misconduct. However, the political divisions surrounding nursing home deaths has been among the driving forces of animosity toward Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her COVID-19 policies.  

Stabbed employee shoots man at upscale Detroit restaurant

Police say a restaurant employee fatally shot a man armed with knife who was attacking him in Downtown Detroit. Detroit police said there was an altercation between the employee at Prime and Proper restaurant and the person who ultimately stabbed him about 12:10 a.m. Sunday.

The restaurant employee then shot the 52-year-old attacker. Police say the stabbing victim is in stable condition. No other injuries have been reported.

Justin Near, a spokesperson from the restaurant, released the statement below: "We are deeply saddened by the incident that occurred just after midnight on January 16 at Cash Only involving a guest and an employee of our third-party security contractor. We are working closely with authorities and have provided them with all security camera footage to assist in the investigation. 

The well-being of our associates, guests, vendors, and community is our top priority, and we will be closed Sunday, January 16. We pray for the security officer’s swift and full recovery following this attack and can report that he is now in stable condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital following emergency surgery. 

Mark Schlissel fired from U-M president role

Mark Schlissel has been removed as president of the University of Michigan due to an alleged "inappropriate relationship with a university employee," the school said Saturday on its website.

The removal was effective "immediately," the University of Michigan Board of Regents said, adding that members learned on Dec. 8, 2021, about the relationship from an anonymous complaint and that an investigation revealed that "over the years," Schlissel used his university email account to "communicate with that subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the university."

The employee wrote in a July 1, 2021, exchange that her "heart hurts," according to the board, which said Schlissel responded: "I know. mine too." He continued: "This is my fault" and that he was "in pain too." Copies of emails with the recipient’s name redacted were included in Saturday’s announcement on the school’s website. 

One dated Jan. 12 was about an August 2019 article from The New Yorker titled "Sexual Fantasies of Everyday New Yorkers." Schlissel had a base salary of $927,000 a year. He announced last October that he would step down in June 2023, a year before his contract was to expire.

— Courtesy of the Associated Press

Finding 30-pound Mister a home

A cat with a big personality and a little extra weight is looking for a home. The 30-pound feline, who goes by the name Mister is currently staying at a Westland shelter. 

But he could come home whenever someone is willing to.

"He's going to be the cat that's going to want to curl up next to you and watch movies all day. As long as you're with him, he's going to be happy. He's going to make someone the best friend," said an employee at the Berman Center for Animal Care. 

The 12-year-old cat likes being held, but he'll let you know when he's ready to be put down. He's also playful, but could use even more to cut down on some of his excess. 

What else we're watching

  1. Here is a list of some bigger events going on during Martin Luther King Jr. Day around Metro Detroit this Monday. 
  2. A Roseville woman was charged in the non-fatal shooting of a 3-year-old boy on Jan. 14. The Detroit child had gotten ahold of it after the woman, who had a firearm in the coat pocket of her jacket, had left it when she hung it up. 
  3. Dozens of flights to DTW were canceled Monday morning as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on area industries. 
  4. Two ice fishermen in Michigan's Thumb region have been rescued by airboat after becoming trapped by open water. Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson says 21-year-old Jeffrey A. Stone Jr. 32-year-old Travis J Bender,  both of Harbor Beach, called for help Saturday afternoon.
  5. A man convicted of criminal sexual conduct doesn't deserve a new trial, despite learning that a western Michigan judge was sharing her opinion of the case through emails with a prosecutor. That's the 2-1 opinion from the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Monday will feel cold, breezy, and may see some flurries later on in the evening. The winter behemoth of a storm that's rolling through the mid-Atlantic states is brushing Michigan, meaning a lot of inclement weather won't get us up here. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022: US events to honor civil rights leader

Many across the U.S. on Monday will honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through marches, tributes and volunteering in an effort to improve their communities.

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is observed each year on the third Monday in January. King, who would have turned 93 on Jan. 15, was a pastor and civil rights leader who dedicated his life to achieving racial equality — a goal he said was inseparable from alleviating poverty and stopping war.

King helped organize rallies and boycotts, including the successful Montgomery bus boycott, and advocated for peaceful protests. King delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, as he stood outside Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. He was 39.