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Attorney: 3 Michigan St players being charged with assault
Big Ten

Attorney: 3 Michigan St players being charged with assault

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 5:59 p.m. ET

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Three Michigan State football players are being charged in an alleged sexual assault on campus in January, an attorney said Monday.

Ingham County prosecutor Carol Siemon said only that three people were being charged in the incident, but she didn't release details or names.

Karen Truszkowski, an attorney for the accuser, told The Associated Press that the three are football players.

''I'm pleased to see the process is moving along. This is just one more step along the way,'' Truszkowski said.


In a separate but related investigation by the university, the three are facing possible discipline as students.

Earlier Monday, Michigan State released a report from an external law firm that investigated the football program's handling of the allegations. The investigation found no evidence that coach Mark Dantonio violated the school's policy on relationship violence and sexual misconduct. The report said Dantonio ''took prompt and decisive action'' with respect to the January incident that has led to criminal charges.

The school announced Feb. 9 that three players were suspended as part of a sexual assault investigation. A staff member associated with the football program also was suspended.

On Monday, school spokesman Jason Cody confirmed that the staffer in question was Curtis Blackwell. The school said last week that Blackwell's contract - which was set to expire at the end of May - was not being renewed.

Michigan State trustees had a work session Monday, which was not open to reporters. Afterward, Chairman Brian Breslin said the board received a briefing ''on football and athletic activities'' from Dantonio and athletic director Mark Hollis.

''While it is not the practice of the board to make a statement after a work session, given the rumors that have been swirling in the media over the weekend, we, the board, state that President (Lou Anna) Simon, athletic director Hollis and coach Dantonio have the full support of this board,'' Breslin said.

Around the same time Breslin was talking to reporters, the school released the report from Jones Day, the law firm Michigan State retained to investigate independently whether football staffers complied with university policy in connection with the sexual assault allegations. Simon said the Jones Day report was reviewed at the work session.

''The report, when you read it, will indicate that coach Dantonio and his team, particularly coach Dantonio, handled this in the utmost manner, with integrity and with swiftness, and consistent with the policy,'' Simon said.

According to the Jones Day report, Dantonio was in a regularly scheduled weekly meeting with a player on Jan. 16, when the player ''became emotional and began to make a statement regarding a woman whom he had helped, saying, `I had to get her out of there. She is my friend.'''

''The reporting player did not provide details of what occurred, when it occurred, where it occurred, or who was involved. He also did not inform Dantonio that the situation involved sexual misconduct or assault,'' the report said.

''Nonetheless, Dantonio suspected the reporting player was a potential witness to an incident that could implicate the university's RVSM policy. Dantonio stopped the player so Dantonio could immediately contact (the Office of Institutional Equity).''

The report also said there is evidence that the staff member who was suspended - who has now been identified as Blackwell - ''learned about an incident potentially involving football players from the reporting player who initially reported to Dantonio.''

''The reporting player informed the staff member that he had already spoken with Dantonio and that Dantonio was reporting the information to OIE,'' the report said.

''This staff member subsequently spoke with the three players allegedly involved in the January 2017 incident in order to determine what had occurred, communicated with a parent of one of those players regarding the incident, and failed to report any information he learned to OIE or MSU PD. We have obtained no evidence that this staff member spoke about the incident or conveyed the information he learned to anyone else at the university, including anyone on the football staff.''

In April, Michigan State defensive end Auston Robertson was dismissed from the team after being charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct in an alleged rape earlier that month. The Jones Day report also addressed that allegation, saying Dantonio ''again took prompt and appropriate action upon learning from one of his players that another football player may have committed sexual assault.''


Associated Press writer Ed White contributed to this report.


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