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Michigan State University responds to lawsuit claiming school mishandled 2015 rape accusations

Lawsuit claims basketball players raped student

EAST LANSING, Mich. – A statement released Wednesday by Michigan State University refutes claims that the school mishandled rape accusations made by a student in 2015.

READ: Student claims 3 Michigan State basketball players raped her in 2015

On Monday, the school was made aware of a lawsuit that alleges an 18-year-old woman in her first year as a student at MSU was raped by three players shortly after the basketball season ended.

According to the lawsuit, the woman was at Harper's Bar in East Lansing on the evening of April 11, 2015, when most of the MSU men's basketball team arrived at the bar. The team's season had ended earlier in the week after a loss to Duke in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. 

The student alleged that the university had convinced her not to take her case to authorities, however the school asserts her claim is untrue. Also, the university said the woman did not identify the alleged attackers as basketball players, nor was the basketball program aware of her accusations.

Read the university's full statement below.

According to the university, the student visited the MSU Counseling Center in April 2015 and "appropriate care and relevant information for a rape victim was provided to the student."

"We have not found any evidence or indication that she was discouraged in any way to make a Title IX complaint or a complaint to the police department. On the contrary, the student said she was then too distraught to discuss her circumstances. The counselor also suggested she visit the Sexual Assault Program unit on campus," the statement from the school reads.

The school also claimed the student's father contacted an academic advisor to discuss concerns over academic performance. During the conversation, the advisor learned about the alleged sexual assault and reported it to MSU police.

According to the school, the MSU Police Department Special Victims Unit tried to contact the woman to start an investigation and gather more information, but she did not respond.

"An informational email was sent to her that outlined resources available to her, including Title IX information, options to contact the Office of Institutional Equity and relevant counseling services," the school's statement said.

The woman has still not filed a Title IX complaint or contacted police, according to the university.

Interim President John Engler responded to the sexual assault reports, saying, “We are deeply saddened when any student comes to us as the result of a sexual assault. For the unfortunate cases where it does happen, MSU has the resources, tools and expertise to respond. These resources are available to every member of the community, 24-7, no exceptions."

Below is the university's full statement:

"Late Monday afternoon, Apr. 9, 2018, MSU was notified that a Jane Doe filed a lawsuit against the university and “Unidentified Roes” (employees or counselors of the MSU Counseling Center) claiming that she was raped by three unnamed MSU athletes and, when she sought help, the university convinced her not to take her case to the authorities. The media has taken these allegations about MSU’s response to her assault as established fact. Unfortunately, they are untrue.

 "Here are the facts:

  • "We have confirmed that, in April 2015, Jane Doe did visit MSU Counseling Center and that our records show that appropriate care and relevant information for a rape victim was provided to the student. We have not found any evidence or indication that she was discouraged in any way to make a Title IX complaint or a complaint to the police department. On the contrary, the student said she was then too distraught to discuss her circumstances. The counselor also suggested she visit the Sexual Assault Program unit on campus.
  • In February 2016, Jane Does visited the Sexual Assault Program unit to receive additional services. She was provided appropriate services, including group counseling sessions, participating in a consultation with a sexual assault advocate, and scheduling an initial appointment with a sexual assault program therapist (an appointment which she did not appear for).
  • In October 2015, Jane Doe’s father contacted her academic advisor to discuss concerns over academic performance. Through that conversation, the advisor learned about the alleged sexual assault. Academic advisors are mandatory reporters under MSU’s policies and the academic advisor promptly took the appropriate step of notifying the MSU Police Department about the potential assault.
  • The MSUPD Special Victims Unit took the report seriously and tried to reach Jane Doe to start the investigation and gather more information, but Jane Doe did not respond to their outreach. An informational email was sent to her that outlined resources available to her, including Title IX information, options to contact the Office of Institutional Equity and relevant counseling services.
  • Jane Doe never revealed the names of her alleged assailants nor, until she filed her lawsuit, did she publicly assert that an assault had occurred. To date, she has yet to exercise her right to make a Title IX complaint or contact the MSUPD or respond to the effort of the Special Victims Unit to learn information about the assault her father brought to the academic advisor’s attention.
  • Any information shared during meetings with MSU counseling and psychiatric services is private and confidential. When attempting to investigate the issue, MSUPD did not have names or any information about possible assailants as Jane Doe never responded to their inquiry. At no point was MSU Athletics Department or the Basketball Program or Head Basketball Coach aware of or notified of the existence of a Jane Doe’s sexual assault allegation."