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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Sexual Assault Allegations Against Two Michigan State Players: Why Aren't Charges Being Brought?

Illustration for article titled Sexual Assault Allegations Against Two Michigan State Players: Why Aren't Charges Being Brought?

Two MSU players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman on campus in August. Despite a police recommendation to prosecute, and one of the accused players later corroborating the victim's account, the prosecutor's office will not be pursuing the case.


The two players have not and will not be named, as long as they aren't charged with any crime. And it doesn't look like they ever will be, despite what looks to our untrained eyes like plenty of evidence to go forward.

The woman met the two at a dorm orientation meeting, she says in the police report. After a few drinks she returned to the players' room.

Once in the room, the three started playing basketball using a mini-hoop. When the victim missed a basket, one of the men told her she had to remove an article of clothing. The victim agreed and removed her t-shirt because she had a tank top on underneath.

At this point, the victim says, the players began to deliberately miss baskets until they were stripped "completely naked." One of the men allegedly blocked the doorway to the room, while the other "cornered" the victim in the room.

"[The victim] explained to [detectives] that the body language of [the players] suggested she was not free to leave," the report says. "[Redacted] was blocking any escape path to the exit of the dorm room. [The victim] stated that after [redacted] approached the door he turned the lights in the room off and the room went completely dark. At this point, the sexual assault began."

The victim told police the players penetrated her in various positions. The victim told detectives the players allegedly asked her "how does that feel?" and "how do you want it?" The victim says she told the players she didn't want it and gave "other indicators she was not a willing participant."

The victim told police that the players pinned her down, but at one point she freed her arms momentarily and struck one of the players in the face. The player was on top of her and in response to her hitting him, he allegedly said, "Don't. Just relax. C'mon," as he continued to assault her, the report says.

According to the Ingham County Prosecutor, charging a case like this "requires the element of force and/or coercion," and of the prosecutors who reviewed it, "none could find any of these necessary elements." It's almost like they didn't read the police report.

It gets worse: the MSU Police Department asked for and were granted a search warrant, and removed DNA evidence, clothing and used condoms from the players' room. They also interviewed one of the players (the other declined to speak).

He told investigators that when it was clear from the victim's statements that she did not want to have sex, he stopped. However, the other player continued "despite her reluctance and statements that she did not want to continue."

After all this, MSU Police forwarded their report to the prosecutor's office with a recommendation that the two players be charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct 1, the most serious level of assault.

Prosecutors say the decision not to bring charges was a mutual one, made with the victim's agreement. She denies this, though she admits to being wary of the backlash that inevitably hits anyone accusing athletes of sexual assault.

I worry about what would happen if it didn't go through and having to deal with all the publicity and everything that goes with pursuing charges," she said. "But also I am angry. It's just that everybody looks at them as heroes and they're so excited for basketball season that [the players] get off without anybody caring. They haven't even been punished."


Maybe not in a courtroom. But it's a matter of time before the rumor mill, the media, and public opinion put everyone involved through the wringer.

MSU basketball players accused of sexual assault [Michigan Messenger]