Three Michigan State football players are facing sexual assault charges relating to a January on-campus incident involving a female student, school officials said.
Ingham County’s lead prosecutor Carol Siemon and her office announced in a release Monday afternoon that charges have been authorized, but no names will be announced at this time of the three players involved.
“I have decided to authorize sexual assault charges against the three persons whose warrants were requested by the MSU Police,” Siemon said in a press release. “We are alleging that on the night of January 16, those three persons sexually assaulted a woman in an East Lansing apartment on campus.”
This authorization of charges means that the police can now obtain arrest warrants from a magistrate or judge for the players.
MSU came forward on Feb. 9 and announced that three football players and one member of the football staff had been indefinitely suspended while the school’s police department investigated the sexual assault allegations.
In addition to these three players, a second incident occurred April 8 when Siemon’s office filed for third-degree criminal sexual conduct against Austin Robertson. Upon learning of these charges against Robertson, coach Mark Dantonio dismissed him from the team immediately.
Also today, Dantonio and Athletic Director Mark Hollis met with MSU’s Board of Trustees to discuss and give an update on the sexual assault investigations. Per the Lansing State Journal, MSU’s Board of Trustees issued a statement giving “full support” for Dantonio, Hollis, and President Lou Anna K. Simon.
Jones Day, the independent law firm investigating MSU’s handling of the two separate cases of sexual assault, found no conclusive evidence that Dantonio had obstructed the school’s sexual misconduct and violence policy.
You can read the Jones Day report in its entirety here.
“We also found no evidence that senior leaders within the football program or Athletic Department attempted to impede, cover up, or obstruct the Office of Institutional Equity’s (OIE’s) investigation into the underlying incidents,” a 14-page report compiled by Jones Day stated.
Jones Day did, however, in its report, find that a football staff member had violated MSU’s policy. They were unable to measure the severity of the staff member’s violation, and the staff member declined to be interviewed by the investigators. None of the three players were interviewed either.
While MSU has never identified Curtis Blackwell as the staff member, he was suspended with pay back on Feb. 9, the same day the three football players were suspended. MSU chose to not renew Blackwell’s contract when it ended May 31, after renewing his contract on a one-month renewal twice. According to the Lansing State Journal article hyperlinked above, a university spokesman confirmed Blackwell was the staff member involved in the case.