The Michigan State athletic department finds itself in more hot water after a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court alleges three basketball players took turns raping a freshman student in 2015, a week after the Spartans lost to Duke in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.
The female victim has come forward with the accusations for the first time since 2015, when the lawsuit says she reported the incident to a campus counselor and was advised not to take her case to the authorities, but rather “get yourself better,” according to court documents obtained by USA Today. Michigan State has come under intense scrutiny recently, since an ESPN report released in January detailed a culture of “widespread denial, inaction and information suppression” regarding sexual assault accusations against high-profile athletes.
In the late hours of April 11, 2015, and early morning of April 12, the woman, 18 years old at the time, was allegedly approached by one of the players at a bar near the East Lansing campus and offered a drink. She was then invited by a player to an apartment party and told that her roommate would also be attending, according to the lawsuit. She learned later they had “lied” about the party and her roommate joining them, it says.
After receiving a ride from two of the players to the apartment, the woman allegedly didn’t feel like herself and believed she may have been drugged. She attempted to send a text from her phone and had a hard time controlling her thumbs to type it out, the suit says.
The victim remembered being pulled into a bedroom by one player and told, “You are mine for the night,” before the other players got involved. She was allegedly taken to another room and held face-down on the bed while each of the three players took his turn raping her from behind. She was crying though she could not speak or yell out for help during the attack, according to the suit, and next remembers waking up on a couch a few hours later and taking a cab back to her dorm room.
Eight days after the alleged rape took place, the woman says she went to the university’s counseling center for an assessment. When she told the counselor she was meeting with that the incident involved three Spartans basketball players, the person allegedly called other staffers into the room who suggested she not go to the police with her accusations because it “would create anxiety and unwanted media attention and publicity as had happened with many other female students who were sexually assaulted by well-known athletes.” She also was never advised to seek medical treatment, including a physical exam or STD or pregnancy testing, according to the suit.
Feeling “frightened,” the woman says she did not take her case any further and months later was admitted to a psychiatric hospital due to feelings of trauma and depression. She withdrew from her classes during the 2015 fall semester and returned in January 2016, changing her major from sports journalism, the suit says. She has allegedly been taking prescribed medication since her hospital stay.
Michigan State’s vice president, Emily Guerrant, told USA Today the university cannot comment on a pending lawsuit, while the athletic department did not return a request for comment.
Since 2007, at least 16 Michigan State football players have been accused of sexual assault or domestic violence, according to the ESPN report, and the victims’ efforts to report the alleged incidents were stifled. The latest complaint came against freshman walk-on basketball player Brock Washington, who was accused in February of groping a female student last fall.