Curtis Blackwell was fired from his position as Michigan State football’s director of college advancement and performance after he failed to report a sexual assault allegation and “took it upon himself to investigate,” according to police documents obtained by the Lansing State Journal.
The State Journal’s report marked the first time Blackwell’s name has actually been linked in writing with a Jan. 16 sexual assault allegation that resulted in the dismissal of three Michigan State football players. While the university did not name Blackwell in its Feb. 9 press release, he was connected to the case within a week after a Michigan State spokesperson confirmed he was serving a suspension on Feb. 14.
Blackwell, who has not been charged, was suspended in February along with three football players, revealed last week by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office to be sophomore wideout Donnie Corley, sophomore defensive end Josh King, and redshirt freshman Demetric Vance.
According to the documents the paper obtained, Blackwell told Michigan State police a football player told him on Jan. 16 that he had been at a party early that morning and discovered a girl in a bathroom “distraught and messed up” and that she was “still in pain” after he escorted her home.
(As Blackwell’s name was the only non-police name that was unredacted in the files, the State Journal was unable to confirm whether the reporting player was Auston Robertson, the former Spartan defensive end that reported the case to head coach Mark Dantonio—Robertson was arrested in April on an unrelated sexual assault charge.)
In the days following Jan. 16, Blackwell texted one of the suspects’ fathers and spoke with two of the players. Michigan State police were not aware the two players he spoke with were connected to the case until Jan. 31, when they discovered a “suspicious text message thread.” Blackwell did not report the case to the school police or the Office of Institutional Equity at any time. Instead, Blackwell told police he spoke with the two players in an attempt to discover whether the sex was consensual.
“I wasn’t doing an investigation or anything,” Blackwell told police. “I was just trying to find out exactly what happened.”
Police seized a pair of cell phones from Blackwell after they escorted him from a February practice in handcuffs. They attempted to convince the Ingham County prosecutor to charge Blackwell with an obstructing an investigation, but the prosecutor declined after reviewing the case. Jones Day, the law firm hired to conduct an review of the football program’s response to the sexual assault allegation, had its interview request denied by Blackwell, but found through the course of its investigation that his decision not to immediately report the assault was a violation of school policy.
All three Michigan State players were charged with varying degrees of sexual assault by the prosecutor last Tuesday; they were subsequently kicked off the Spartans football team. Blackwell’s contract was extended by one month two separate times by head coach Mark Dantonio before the Michigan State decided to let him go at the end of May, a week prior to charges being announced.