Feb. 22 2018 09:52 AM

New documents detail MSU Appling/Payne housing irregularities

In response to the sexual assault allegations against two standout freshman Michigan State University basketball players in 2010, the university ignored its own sexual assault protocols in moving Keith Appling and Adreian Payne out of Wonders Hall, newly obtained documents show.

Additionally, the documents show MSU Basketball Coach Tom Izzo was not only informed about the case against his players, but that he quickly met with Associate Athletic Director Alan Haller, a former MSU Police officer, and Assistant Coach Mike Garland as well as the players hours after a search warrant was executed on their dorm room.

The new documents include letters from federal investigators from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, the university’s responses and dozens of pages of emails created in the wake of the 2010 sexual assault allegations.

The emails show that Appling and Payne were moved without a hearing, violating the standing protocols of the university. Nothing in the documents explains why an exception was made.

“In most cases, we would remove the alleged perpetrators out of the hall only after an investigation and a contract hearing,” Paul Rinella, complex director of Wonders Hall, wrote to Eduardo Olivo, assistant director of residence life, on Sept. 2, 2010, several days after the alleged assault. A contract hearing is a reference to a stipulation in the student housing contract all on-campus students sign.

The statement was in response to a directive from Olivo to follow the sexual assault protocol “to the letter.”

“Nothing about this case has been ‘to the letter,’” Rinella wrote.

Neither Rinella nor Olivo would comment for this report. They directed questions to a university spokesman instead.

Kent Cassella, associate vice president for communications and senior PR strategist for MSU, declined to answer specific questions about the documents or the emails.

The new documents detail the MSUs Athletic Department’s involvement with the explosive Appling/Payne charges and how fully informed Izzo was about the matter.

Both players continued to dress in the Spartan uniform and participate in games. This is despite Izzo’s being fully briefed on the allegations and the investigation on Aug. 31, just hours after MSU police served a search warrant on the dorm room Appling and Payne shared in Wonders Hall. Payne agreed to go with investigators and gave a videotaped statement to detectives about the alleged assault.

A response from MSU’s deputy general counsel, Kristine Zayko, just named acting chief counsel upon the retirement of Robert Noto announced Tuesday, to an inquiry by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights shows MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap called Mark Hollis, then athletic director, on Aug. 31, 2010. The assault allegedly occurred on Aug. 29 and was reported to law enforcement on Aug. 30.

Hollis directed Haller to meet with Izzo and others about the allegations. Haller was an MSU football player who became an officer for Michigan State University Police Department commanding the uniform division. That division would often handle the first contact with sexual assault victims filing criminal complaints.

“Mr. Haller met with Coach Izzo, the two male students and Assistant Basketball Coach (Mike) Garland to explain what the potential charges were, and how the criminal justice process worked, and to instruct the students to refrain from attending any social gatherings and to have no contact with complainant,” Zayko wrote.

The Office of Civil Rights investigation ultimately determined that while MSU’s delay in instituting a Title IX investigation into the sexual assault allegation had contributed to a sexually hostile environment, the university handled the case appropriately, including the reassignment of the players to the apartment.

Zayko’s response indicates Rinella met with Olivo and Paul Goldblatt, then director of residence life, on Sept. 1, two days after the university was informed of the investigation and allegations.

“Mr. Rinella was instructed to move the male students to another campus living location while the university investigated the sexual assault allegations,” Zayko wrote to OCR investigators. “Mr. Rinella immediately coordinated the students’ move to an apartment in Spartan Village. Mr. Rinella met with Assistant Basketball Coach Mike Garland and the two male students. Mr. Rinella took the keys from the residents and informed them, with their coach present, that they were not allowed back in Wonders Hall unless they first contacted him.”

Later in the document, Zayko wrote that Goldblatt issued the order to move the students from Wonders Hall. Zayko argued that the two men wanted to remain in a dorm, but the decision was made to place them in Spartan Village, which normally is not available for first-year students.

“Given the severity of the allegations against the male students, the university determined it was not appropriate for them to remain in the residence hall system pending investigation of the complaint,” Zayko wrote.

The criminal investigation was completed Sept. 2, when then-Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III declined to issue a warrant for the players’ arrest. University officials at that point began to struggle with whether to bring housing contract hearings and judicial hearings against the players for violating the university’s sexual harassment policies. Pursuing either process would have required the alleged victim, Carolyn Schaner, to pursue actions, forcing her to testify and give statements at least twice. Schaner has identified herself to the media.

To address victims’ concerns about testifying, the university changed its policy to allow it to begin investigations into sexual assaults and harassment claims independently and without victim participation.

An outside investigator hired to conduct that review determined by a “preponderance of the evidence” the university’s sexual harassments policies were not violated and that evidence could not determine whether the alleged assault was consensual.

Schaner reported to police that both men were seen dining in Wonders Hall on at least two occasions, according to reports filed with MSU Police. This would have violated Rinella’s direction that the men not enter Wonders Hall without contacting him first. The university determined that because the men were cooperating, there was no need to issue a no-trespass letter barring them from Wonders, despite giving them verbal warnings to that effect.

Appling and Payne were never given a formal housing contract hearing to back up the administrative decision to move them to an apartment in the Spartan Village complex.