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Three MSU football players to be charged with sexual assault

Michigan State University
John M. Quick
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Three players will be charged with a January 2017 assault, the prosecutor's office announced Monday.

In the early morning hours of January 16, three football players allegedly assaulted a young woman at a party in an on-campus apartment.

That’s according to Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, who announced she’s authorizing charges against the three men on Monday.

Their names won’t be released by the prosecutor’s office until they’re arraigned, a spokesman said. Michigan Radio reached out to the men’s attorneys, but they either declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond.

The young woman’s attorney, Karen Truszkowski, says she’s not publicly getting into details about the alleged assault just yet.

“There was an altercation between my client and three individuals that are on the MSU football team,” she said Monday, adding that putting out too much information right now could hurt her client’s privacy. “Any time you’re talking about a sexual assault, the more information that gets out to the public ... it can reflect poorly on the survivor of the assault, because people make assumptions about the survivor that are not true.”

Still, Truszkowski says her client knows this case will get a lot of media attention.

“When someone is sexually assaulted, the first thing people think is, ‘Oh, well she might have wanted it,’” she says. “Is she prepared for it? Yes. I mean, nobody can really know how it’s going to feel until it happens. But she knows it’s not going to be easy. And she is prepared to deal with it. She wants to see this through to the end. She’s a strong person.”  

Law firm’s investigation clears Dantonio, but says Blackwell violated policy

On the afternoon of January 16, hours after the alleged assault occurred, Coach Mark Dantonio was having a regular weekly meeting with another football player. That player got “emotional” and “began to make a statement regarding a woman whom he had helped, saying, ‘I had to get her out of there. She is my friend,’ according to a separate, outside investigation by the Jones Day law firm.

MSU hired Jones Day to look into how the football staff handled the alleged assaults, and released the firm’s findings on Monday, just minutes before the prosecutor announced she was authorizing charges.

Dantonio immediately called the university’s Office of Institutional Equity, that report found, which is what he’s supposed to do according to MSU’s policies. The OIE investigates sexual assault reports. Next, Dantonio let Athletic Director Mark Hollis and Senior Associate Athletic Director Alan Haller know about his meeting with this player and the report to OIE.

Credit YouTube.com
Curtis Blackwell talks to the Big Ten Network a few years back about his role recruiting at MSU

But the same report also found another staff member, who a spokesman confirms is former football recruiter Curtis Blackwell, may not have reported information about the incident to the police or the university.

The player who had met with Dantonio also told Blackwell he’d spoken with the head coach and that the incident was being reported to the OIE.

“[Blackwell] subsequently spoke with the three players allegedly involved in the January 2017 incident in order to determine what occurred, communicated with a parent of one of those players regarding the incident, and failed to report any information he learned to OIE or MSU PD,” the Jones Day report reads. That would be a major violation of the university’s rules.

MSU recently declined to renew Blackwell’s contract, which ended last week.

This is just one of three alleged assaults involving MSU football players

Earlier this spring, player Auston Robertson was arrested on separate rape charges. Dantonio found out about Robertson from yet another football player, according to the Jones Day investigation, who told him “that a female he knew was raped by another player on the football team.”

Dantonio stopped the player from offering further details, and told him he would immediately report the information to the MSU PD and the University, the report says.

Credit MSU
An ad for the 2016 sports camp. Mumpherey was originally billed as one of the NFL pros who'd be attending, but a spokesman says he didn't participate because he was banned from campus.

And last month, sports reporter Chris Solari broke the news in the Detroit Free Press that former player Keith Mumphery had been expelled in 2016 for an alleged sexual assault.

MSU police investigated that incident, which took place in a young woman’s dorm room on St. Patrick’s Day in 2015.

Ultimately the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office declined to press charges against Mumphery, telling police “this case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

MSU spokesman Jason Cody says while Mumpherey was slated to attend a Spartan sports camp as an NFL pro that summer, he did not in fact participate, because he’d been banned from campus as part of the sanctions against him.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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