Barb Byrum’s past public statements on women’s rights could inadvertently bolster the prosecution’s case against the Ingham County Clerk and former Democratic state representative.

Byrum and her husband, Ingham County Deputy Sheriff Brad Delaney, are alleged to have used their “unique positions of power” to collude with the Mason Public School Board of Education in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of a young woman who was sexually assaulted in an eighth-grade classroom by Byrum and Delaney’s son in May 2022. Also named in the lawsuit are the Mason Public School District, Mason High School Principal Lance Delbridge, and Mason High School Assistant Principal Nicholas Toodzio.

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The assailant, called B.D. in court documents, was expelled from Mason Public Schools but returned after the School Board approved a reinstatement petition from Byrum and Delaney, not only violating the personal protection order ruled on the victim’s (referred to as E.M. in court documents) behalf from Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Richard Garcia but contrary to the Title IX recommendation. Garcia’s PPO was reinstated again on January 19, 2024.

In his PPO, Garcia stated: “B.D. poses a credible threat to the physical safety of E.M. and interferes with E.M.’s place of education or engaging in conduct that impairs her educational relationship or environment.”

The assailant was expelled after a Title IX investigation concluded he forced his hand down the front of the young woman’s sweatpants and under garments and digitally penetrated her in a classroom. He only stopped when the classroom bell rang. Several days later, B.D. initiated another assault that the E.M. was able to thwart.

According to court filings by E.M.’s attorney, “B.D. was expelled from Mason Public School District in violation of Board Policy #2266 and Michigan law under MCL 380.1311(2) which provides ‘if a pupil…. commits a criminal sexual conduct in a school building or on school grounds… against another pupil in the same school district, the school board shall expel the pupil from the school district permanently… Approximately 150 days after the suspension, B.D.’s parents petitioned—using their local political influence—the Mason Board of Education for reinstatement of B.D.”

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In a public statement released Monday by Mason Public Schools Superintendent Gary Kinzer addressed the lawsuit in letter to the community Monday. The school district’s attorney, Mark Ostrowski, was quoted in the letter, saying, “Without discussing the specifics of the case, it can be said that the school district has an obligation to provide an appropriate education to all of its students and there are specific statutes governing and limiting the discipline applicable to each situation.”

For more than a decade, Byrum has championed women’s rights against sexual violence. For example, she touted one advantage of electing female political candidates in 2014 as “rape insurance.”

In 2013, Byrum advocated for the federal Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act or STOP Act to create an independent body to investigate sexual assaults.

In 2015, she championed a video aiming to instruct viewers that initiating intimacy with a woman should be viewed through the prism of offering her tea, and that at any time she is at liberty to change her mind. The woman’s mindset should be heeded at all times, the video reminds viewers, unless, of course, she is intoxicated or unconscious, in which case she should not be forced to drink the tea prepared for her.

Also in 2012, Byrum shared an informative article from The Nation on how a human body reacts to sexual assault.

The day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in 2017, Byrum delivered a fiery 13-minute stemwinder to 8,000 attendees of the Women’s March delivered on the steps of the Michigan Capitol in 2017. In the speech, she alluded to Trump’s infamous hot-mic remark to Billy Bush when she says she’ll hold about she says, “We are here to remind this new administration that our daughters, mothers, sisters and wives will receive the same respect and dignity that every other American and when he or his nearly all male administration disrespect that we will hold him accountable.”

In 2019, Byrum related a discussion on intimacy consent with her son, which she shared on Facebook.

Byrum’s mother is Dianne Byrum, also a former state representative and current member of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees. According to a June 2023 report in the Lansing State Journal via The Detroit News, the elder Byrum and her husband claimed principal home exemptions on both of their two homes in Onondaga and Ferrysburg, which netted them approximately $75,000 since 2012. The elder Byrum’s elevation to chair of the MSU Board of Trustees in 2019 sparked criticism for the board’s handling of Larry Nassar’s sexual crimes.

“She has steadfastly refused to engage with survivors, she has had a lot of difficulty being supportive with initiatives and she is part of the Lansing insider crew,” Nassar’s first accuser, Rachael Denhollander, told The Detroit News at the time. “We needed someone someone committed to cultural change, but she has completed refused to engage with us.”