A lawsuit filed by a current Michigan State University student says that, in 2015, three MSU basketball players gang-raped her in an off-campus apartment. The student also says that employees at the university’s counseling center discouraged her from reporting the rape, either to police or the school’s Office of Institutional Equity.
The suit dates the assault to the night of April 11, 2015—a week after Michigan State was eliminated by Duke in the Final Four that year. The student, who says she was 18 at the time, says she was out at an East Lansing bar when most of the MSU basketball team arrived, including her three alleged attackers (who are unnamed in the suit). One of those three bought her a drink, and then she was invited to a party at an off-campus apartment. She was told her roommate would be there.
When she got to the apartment, the suit says, her roommate was not there, and the student was “feeling discombobulated” and “thought she might have been drugged.” One player eventually took her into his bedroom, threw her down on the bed, and raped her from behind. The other two players then took turns raping her, until the student woke up in the apartment a few hours later and called a taxi.
The student reported the rape to the Michigan State University Counseling Center, and completed initial paperwork. But when she told her counselor that her attackers were basketball players, the suit says “the counselor’s demeanor completely changed.” Another staffer was brought into the room, and the student was told that it may not be in her best interest to report her rape further. From the suit:
The MSUCC staff told Plaintiff that her options were to either file a police report or deal with the aftermath of the rape(s) on her own. The MSUCC staff made it clear to Plaintiff that if she chose to notify the police, she faced an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention and publicity as had happened with many other female students who were sexually assaulted by well-known athletes.
Comments were made by MSUCC staff to the effect of “we have had many other students in the same situation who have reported, and it has been very traumatic for them.” Plaintiff was told by the MSUCC staff that they had seen a lot of these cases with “guys with big names” and the best thing to do is to “just get yourself better” implying to the Plaintiff that it would not be in the Plaintiff’s best interest to report the incident to law enforcement. Plaintiff was expressly told by MSUCC staff that “if you pursue this, you are going to be swimming with some really big fish.”
The suit goes on to say that the student continued to see her attackers in the dining hall, and she became so traumatized and depressed that she was admitted to a program for psychiatric treatment. She withdrew from school for the Fall 2015 semester, but returned at the start of 2016.
Michigan State has consistently come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency in the handling of its sexual assault cases. The school has been under Department of Education oversight since 2014 for these reasons, and many of its alleged mishandled cases have involved members of the basketball and football teams. The full lawsuit is embedded below: