Prosecutor awaiting additional evidence before charges in MSU sexual assault case

3 football players suspended amid sexual assault investigation

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The alleged rape of a Michigan State University student at the hands of three football players has school police asking the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office for arrest warrants.

The university confirms all three players have been removed from student housing and suspended from the team.

Two of the three players suspended amid the allegations are from Detroit, and the third player is from out of state.

The sexual assault that's under investigation happened on campus in January and was reported. University police have been working on the case ever since, and now they're turned over their findings to the prosecutor's office.

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon said the case files have been turned over.

"I have asked the MSU Police Department to continue that investigation and submit to our office additional information and evidence," Siemon said. "Upon the receipt of those materials, I will determine a charging decision in this matter."

News hit the campus last week that three players and a football staff member were being investigated.

"If we lose a game, it's a big deal, but when something happens with rape of that type of situation, no one takes it as as big of a deal as if we lose a game," junior Taylor Bonner said.

Curtis Blackwell, who is the team's director of college advancement and performance and one of the team's top recruiters, was suspended on Tuesday, though the school didn't say whether Blackwell is the staffer connected to the sexual assault investigation.

Detectives are interviewing members of the coaching staff and others regarding their response since the complaint was made in late January.

Separate from the criminal and Title IX investigations, the university administration is retaining an external law firm to investigate the football program staff members' compliance with university policy in connection with the allegations.

The university said it will take prompt action, if appropriate, in response to any policy violations in the investigation.

Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis released the following statement:

"The core values of MSU Athletics are clear, consistently communicated and non-negotiable. Among them are respect for self and others, accountability for actions and choices, and integrity. Sexual assault is unacceptable, and members of MSU Athletics who fail to uphold our standards for creating a culture that is safe, supportive, and responsive to those affected by it will be held accountable. My expectation of all members of the department is full and complete cooperation with all investigations.

"We have a strong athletics program at MSU, one based on values, traditions, and an understanding that as Spartans we are part of something bigger. Our promise to current and future student-athletes and to the entire Spartan community is to take the steps necessary, based on the facts determined through thorough review, to run this program according to the highest values and standards."

The school's women's gymnastics coach was suspended Monday in a separate case, two weeks after she was accused of downplaying complaints about sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar.

University spokesman Jason Cody confirmed Kathie Klages' suspension but offered no details and didn't say whether it was related to Nassar.

Nassar is a former Michigan State doctor who is being sued by more than two dozen women and girls who allege he molested them during treatments. He also worked for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Klages, who has been a Michigan State coach for nearly 30 years, isn't being sued. But in a recent court filing, one woman said she diminished her concerns in 1997 or 1998. The woman said Klages was her coach when she was a teenager in a Michigan State youth program.

"Klages explained that she had known Nassar for years and could not imagine him doing anything questionable," the court filing states.

Klage warned that a formal complaint "would have serious consequences" for the teen and Nassar, according to the document.

The teen said she was embarrassed and scared after talking to Klages. She said she was molested by Nassar that same day when she saw him for back pain.

Klages didn't return a phone message seeking comment on the suspension.

"It's good to see the university is taking some steps in the right direction," said attorney Jamie White, who is suing Nassar and Michigan State on behalf of a current athlete. "But they have a long way to go."

Nassar has denied abuse allegations. Aside from civil lawsuits in Michigan and elsewhere, he's criminally charged with assaulting a girl at his Lansing-area home and possessing child pornography. He's in jail without bond. Michigan State fired Nassar in September.

Meanwhile, Hollis canceled a trip to watch men's basketball games as chairman of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

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