In the fall of 2017, after graduating, Ms. Brourman said in court records that Mr. Conforth raped her in his Ann Arbor apartment. She did not report it, she said because she feared retaliation, but filed a complaint with the police in February.
The two women, whose complaints played a role in Mr. Conforth’s departure from Michigan, contacted the university after learning of each other’s accounts. Shaina Mahler was 22 years old in 2014 when she said her favorite teacher, Mr. Conforth, started posting her messages on Facebook. She was flattered at first, but then the messages escalated to express how much he was attracted to her.
When Ms. Mahler told him that she felt “confused and concerned” about his messages, Mr. Conforth apologized and said they could be friends. He wrote, “Please, please don’t ruin my life here.” A few days later, Mr. Conforth sent her sexually assaulted messages saying he wanted to “kiss” and “touch” her according to court records.
Ms. Mahler let it slip until two years later she spoke to Ms. Brown, who shared an almost identical experience of being followed by Mr. Conforth. Ms. Brown, then 21, told him several times that his progress was “inadequate,” as noted by a Title IX coordinator who interviewed her. But one day in his office when he insisted they hug, they kissed too, she said.
That semester, their interactions escalated to a sexual encounter in his office, and Ms. Brown told the coordinator that she initially thought it was consensual. She admitted that she had feelings for Mr. Conforth, but told the coordinator that after their sexual encounter she quickly became anxious and conflicted. She soon realized, she said, that she had been manipulated, especially after learning from a friend – another student in his class at the time – that Mr Conforth had left her a note saying he found her attractive.
Ms. Brown and Ms. Mahler reported to the university about their interactions with Mr. Conforth in late 2016 and retired shortly thereafter.