Breaking: MSU probe

By Todd Heywood

Sexual-assault allegations against two MSU athletes triggered federal investigation, university sources say

Thursday, Feb. 27 — A 2010 sexual-assault complaint against two Michigan State University athletes triggered the federal investigation into the school’s handling of such cases, two administration sources close to the investigation confirmed.

The Title IX investigation links back to an alleged rape that occurred in a dorm room late on the night of Aug. 29, 2010, and into the early morning hours. The female victim told MSU police it was two athletes who were freshmen at the time. Both are still enrolled.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III declined to bring charges against the two men in 2010. As a result, the woman, who was also a student, took a Title IX complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in summer 2011, sources said. The Office of Civil Rights is leading the investigation.

The administration sources say that while the MSU investigation was triggered by the victim’s Title IX federal complaint, during the initial investigation the Office of Civil Rights officials identified additional cases at MSU.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media on this case or the investigation.

The federal investigation was confirmed Monday by MSU officials, but media reports until now have not included information about the nature of the allegations that led to the investigation.

In a statement Monday on the investigation, Kent Casella, MSU’s vice president for media communications, confirmed that the university was cooperating with the investigation. He said the university had “responded fully and appropriately to the incidents under investigation.”

Title IX is a portion of federal law requiring equal access for women, and immediate investigation and action on complaints of sexual assault or harassment. Institutions found to have violated the law are subject to fines and orders requiring policy changes. The federal investigation is about whether MSU inappropriately handled sexual assault allegations.

A request to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office for police reports on a sexual assault involving the two athletes resulted in the release of the MSU Public Safety investigation into the incident in 2010 to the former online news site Michigan Messenger.

According to the police report from MSU’s Department of Public Safety, the two players and the victim met late in the evening and went to the players’ room in Wonders Hall, in the university’s South Complex of dorms.

The three played a game of basketball using a miniature net in the room, the police report says. After the victim missed a basket, the two men said she had to remove her t-shirt. She complied because she was wearing a tank top underneath, the report says.

After that, the report says, the two men began to intentionally miss baskets and remove clothing until they were both naked. She says at this point one of the players cornered her and that she felt she was not able to leave the room. She told police investigators that one of the men turned off the lights, while another told her to remove her clothing.

The police report details that the two men penetrated her orally, vaginally and anally. She says she told the two men multiple times throughout the assault that she did not want to have sex with them.

However, in an Oct. 1, 2010, statement, Dunnings said his office declined to bring charges.

“Based on our review of all of the materials, including the police report, actual interviews, and the specific details that were elicited directly from the Complainant, our office reached the conclusion that no crime had been committed. We therefore made the decision to decline to bring charges against the two young men,” Dunnings said at the time.

The Office for Civil Rights is also investigating an alleged rape of a female student from 2009 at the University of Michigan involving football player Brendan Gibbons. Gibbons was arrested at the time of the assault, but was never charged in the incident. In December, he was separated from the school.