Three MSU football players charged in campus sexual assault case
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Three Michigan State football players were charged Tuesday with criminal sexual conduct after a woman said she was raped and forced to perform oral sex in the bathroom of an on-campus apartment during a party in January.
Josh King, 19, was charged with first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct and with distributing an image of an unclothed person. Demetric Vance, 20, and Donnie Corley Jr., 19, face third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.
Coach Mark Dantonio dismissed all three from the football program moments after the charges were made public, and he later joined athletic director Mark Hollis for a news conference.
"This is my home," Hollis said, choking up a bit as he spoke. "It's where my wife and I attended school -- where one son and my daughter earned their degree, where my other son will enroll this fall. I expect my home to be safe -- safe to all that live here and safe to all that visit. Like any home, its safety requires shared responsibility and accountability. As athletic director, I am responsible to make tomorrow better than today."
King is a defensive end from Darien, Illinois. Vance, a defensive back, and Corley, a receiver, are both from Detroit.
"It's never a good day when a criminal charge is filed against you, but at least Mr. Corley knows what he is facing and can get on with the process of fighting it," said Corley's attorney, John Shea. "He maintains that, in fact, he is innocent, and we intend to demonstrate that in the coming proceedings."
Prosecutor Carol Siemon had said three people were being charged in the incident, but their names were not disclosed until Tuesday in court when university police Detective Chad Davis described the allegations for District Judge Richard D. Ball in East Lansing.
King is accused of pulling the woman into the bathroom and forcing her to perform oral sex before raping her. King then let two other people into the bathroom, one at a time, and the woman says she was forced to perform oral sex on them, according to Davis.
Corley and Vance initially denied having any sexual contact with anyone while at the party, police said, but later said they'd received oral sex from a woman in the bathroom. They both said they did not know the woman's name, and both identified the accuser in a photograph, Davis said.
Karen Truszkowski, an attorney for the accuser, asked for privacy.
"This is not about football, and it's not about this university," she said. "It's about four people that -- this is dramatic and difficult for all of them. So that's what I want people to keep in mind."
Michigan State announced Feb. 9 that three players were suspended as part of a sexual assault investigation, but the school had not identified who they were until Tuesday. The lingering investigation -- as well as a separate criminal sexual conduct charge in April against Michigan State football player Auston Robertson -- have loomed over the athletic department. Robertson was dismissed from the team following the charge against him.
The problems in the football program come at a time when the school is also dealing with the fallout from allegations of sexual assault against Larry Nassar , a former MSU doctor who also worked for USA Gymnastics.
On Monday, Michigan State released a report from an external law firm that investigated the football program's handling of the sexual assault allegations against its players. The investigation found no evidence that Dantonio violated school policy on handling sexual misconduct and the firm praised the department's educational efforts with athletes about the topic. The report said Dantonio "took prompt and decisive action" with respect to the January incident.
"I'm angry," Dantonio said Tuesday. "I feel like the education was there, I feel like I talk about their sense of responsibility that our players have -- not to be a good football player, to be a good person -- to do their very best."
In a text message to The Associated Press, Shea questioned the decision to remove his client from the team.
"I don't know what all went into the football decision, but it looks like an unfortunate rush to judgment before the criminal charges are even engaged," he said.
The allegations at Michigan State come after football programs at Baylor and Minnesota have been rocked by sexual assault allegations.
"Look how many arrests we have had for sexual assaults with football players," Truszkowski said. "There's a whole lot more out there. Is there a problem? You do the math, I guess."
It was not clear when King or Corley would be arraigned. Vance appeared in court Tuesday with attorney Mary Chartier.
"I think he's an upstanding young man. He has no criminal history whatsoever," Chartier said. "I think that anyone you spoke with in the community would tell you he is just a really polite and courteous young man, and I think he's been falsely accused."
Chartier said Vance has been dismissed from the university but is appealing that decision.