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MSU in spotlight again after 3 athletes accused of 2015 rape

April 10, 2018

Michigan State spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said Tuesday that the university had no immediate comment on the suit.

According to the filing, the then-18-year-old student said she was studying to be a sports journalist at MSU when she and a roommate went to a bar in East Lansing, where the campus is located. After midnight, members of the men’s basketball team arrived, the suit said, and one of them offered to buy her a drink and introduce her to other players. It was a few days after the team lost to Duke in the Final Four.

One of the members then invited her to an apartment party and, “at this point, Plaintiff was having a hard time holding on to her glass even though she had not had a lot to drink,” according to the complaint.

Two of the players drove her to an off-campus apartment, where she said she expected to find her roommate as well. The student said she tried to send a text, but “could not control her thumbs.”

Later, after being given water because she was “incredibly thirsty” and thinking “she might have been drugged,” the lights went dark. Then, three players took turns raping her, according to the complaint. None of the players were named in the suit.

The student said she remembered waking up in the apartment a few hours later and taking a taxi back to her dorm room.

About a week later, after telling a friend about the experience, the student said she went to the Michigan State University Counseling Center. After telling a counselor the assault involved three members of the basketball team, the staffer brought in another person into the room and they told her she could file a police report but she “faced an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention,” the complaint said.

The student said staff told her they had seen other cases involving well-known athletes and felt they were implying it would not be in her best interest to go to authorities. The complaint added that she was not advised to seek STD or pregnancy tests or get medical treatment.

Ten months later, she sought help from the school’s Sexual Assault Program, and was prescribed multiple medications by a private clinic for depression, anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia, the suit said.

She did not file a police report or a no-contact order against the players through MSU, claiming in the suit that she was never informed of that option. She resumed classes in January 2016.

Karen Truszkowski, an attorney for the plaintiff, said Tuesday that she had no further comment about the suit.

In addition to Simon, former MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis resigned in January just hours before an ESPN investigation was published detailing a pattern of “denial, inaction and information suppression” involving sexual assault and gender discrimination cases linked to the football and basketball programs.

Leadership has also been accused of covering up or being slow to stop Nassar, 54, who was sentenced earlier this year to decades in prison.

The school has said new resources were instituted to combat sexual violence and acknowledged that “we have sometimes fallen short of our goal and the expectations of others.”

The group “Reclaim MSU,” an alliance of students and faculty calling for meaningful reform at the school, said the process remains “convoluted” for students who want to report instances of sexual assault and understand their rights.

“Every new story that comes out is shocking, but not surprising at the same time,” said Natalie Rogers, an MSU student and spokeswoman for Reclaim. “In the past, we see how poorly MSU handles these types of things and at every turn makes it clear that they only care about the brand of Michigan State.”