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MSU police detail the night of the alleged sexual assault

The "Sparty" statue on the MSU campus
Betsy Weber
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
MSU police say the three men assaulted a young woman in a bathroom at a campus party

On Tuesday morning, Detective Chad Davis told an East Lansing judge what MSU police believe happened in the early morning hours of January 16th.

At a party in an on-campus apartment, Davis says, a young woman started talking with Josh King, an MSU football player she’d met before. He asked her if she wanted to go somewhere quiet to talk, and pulled her into the bathroom.

There, Davis says King tried to initiate sex, but the woman says she told King she didn’t want to.

“The victim said that King forced…[her] to perform oral sex on him,” Davis told district Judge Richard Ball. “The victim stated she told King she did not want to do anything else. The victim said that King pulled her pants down and penetrated her vaginally with his penis.”

From there, the young woman says, King brought two of his friends and fellow MSU football players into the bathroom one at a time: Demetric Vance and Donnie Corley.

“The victim said she was forced to perform oral sex on these two friends,” Davis says. “The victim asked all [of them] to stop. The victim said she eventually collapsed to the floor and all three suspects left the bathroom promptly.”

The police investigation: each man initially denied having sex with alleged victim

The next day, MSU PD were notified of the alleged assault, and a detective spoke with the young woman later that same week.

Police spoke to Josh King in his dorm room January 24th, and he agreed to come in for an interview at the station. He told them he’d been at the party, but “denied having any intimate or sexual contact with anyone while at the party,” Detective Davis told the court.

After getting a warrant to search King’s cell phone, police found a “suspicious text message [thread] amongst King, another individual, Donnie Corley and Demetric Vance.” Those texts seemed to indicate “involvement in the sexual assault by King, Corley and Vance.”

They also found a video on King’s phone that showed him having sex with the alleged victim in that bathroom.

Detectives got search warrants for Corley’s and Vance’s rooms, and seized clothing worn the night of the party and “multiple electronic devices.” On February 7th, police interviewed both of them at the station.

At first, Corley told police several times that he hadn’t had sex with anybody that night. But then, police say, he admitted receiving oral sex from the alleged victim that night in the bathroom. He didn’t know her name, he told police, but had seen King “having sex with the victim” when he’d entered the bathroom.

They also found a video on King's phone that showed him having sex with the alleged victim in that bathroom.

Vance also repeatedly told police he didn’t have sexual contact with anyone at the party, but eventually changed his statement as well. He admitted to receiving oral sex from a young woman he didn’t know, whom he’d seen having sex with King in the bathroom.  

If convicted, defendants could be facing years in prison

Judge Ball agreed that Detective Davis had presented probable cause to charge the three defendants, and signed the warrants for their arrest.

King is facing the most serious charges: one count of first degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of third degree criminal sexual conduct, and one count of capturing or distributing an image of an unclothed person.

The first count is a felony that could carry life in prison.

Both Corley and Vance are facing one count each of third degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries up to 15 years.

Vance was arraigned Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Coach Mark Dantonio announced all three players had been kicked off the football team. They’d initially been suspended in February.

With a stoic expression, a trim goatee and striped blue tie, Vance stood before the judge as his parents and the bishop of his church congregation looked on.

The prosecutor asked Judge Ball to set bail at $50,000, given the serious nature of the charges and the personal protection order the alleged victim has filed against him and the other defendants.

But Vance’s defense attorney, Mary Chartier, balked at that. He argued that Vance has willingly cooperated with police and been in close contact with the prosecutor’s office in the lead-up to these charges.

“Mr. Vance has no criminal history whatsoever,” Chartier told the judge. “Mr. Vance has every intention to fight this case out in court. He believes that he will be exonerated. He has no interest in fleeing. If he wanted to do that, he certainly could have before this. And again, this is a young man with a stellar record, who wants to clear his name in a court of law.”

Judge Ball then asked her about Vance’s student status.

“Currently he’s been dismissed from the University, although we are appealing that decision, based on issues in the investigatory process,” Chartier said. “He currently is living at home and is looking for a new university to attend."

Judge Ball agreed to set bond at $10,000, with the conditions that Vance continue to abide by the personal protection order, have no contact with the alleged victim in any form, and refrain from making any social media posts relating to the case. Vance’s preliminary exam was scheduled for later this month.  

Both King and Corley are expected to appear for arraignment on Wednesday, when their bonds will be decided and dates for their preliminary hearings scheduled. 

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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