In 2015, an unnamed Michigan State University freshman claimed three basketball players took turns gang-raping her. The alleged incident occurred after the Michigan State team had lost in the Final Four during March Madness.
At the time, the student and her roommate found the athletes at Harper’s Bar. The first player offered to buy her a drink, and she accepted. He then introduced her to his two friends on the team.
She had no romantic interest with any of them. As a sports journalism major, the student thought she would share similar interests with the players. The first player invited her off-campus, under the intimation that there would be a party. He allegedly said to her, “You are mine for the night.”
Later, at a house, she wanted to play a song off of her laptop, but found that she could not move her hands.
She requested water from the second basketball player because she was extremely thirsty. As she took a sip, the room went completely dark and the second basketball player forcibly put her head on the bed.
She never consented to sexual activity. He then raped her from behind, and when he was done, his friends took turns. She cried while it happened to her, but found herself completely defenseless.
A week after the rape, she went to a rape counselor to file a report. After she admitted to the counselor that the alleged rapists were on the basketball team, the counselor’s mood completely shifted. The counselor told the student that she had two choices: either contact the police or deal with the rape on her own.
The counselor suggested if she filed the report, she would give the university unwanted publicity and then went on to note examples in which people filed reports after having similar traumatic experiences. The freshman was told “she should get herself better instead.”
Three years after the incident, the student is still on campus. Her attorney, Karen Truszkowski, made a statement about the student’s resilience and the ability to succeed in her studies, despite her painful incident.
In her suit, Truszkowski claims the university failed to help the student in any way and that they didn’t want her to alarm the police.
At first, the university declined to make a statement about the alleged crime. This past Wednesday, Michigan State officials changed their minds and had President John Engler remark on the incident, wherein he called her claims “untrue.”
Emily Guerrant, a spokeswoman for the university, wanted to alert the press that they are not attacking the victim or any person who has been sexually assaulted. They encourage any victim to seek assistance after their upsetting experience.
It’s ironic that in the university’s statement, they encourage victims of sexual assault and rape to seek assistance, but when someone actually tries to, there’s no follow up on the incident because the suspected rapists are student athletes.
Students have reacted, expressing their dismay, but many are also aware of the status quo and the benefits that student athletes experience.
The incident also comes on the heels of a similar situation occurring with three Michigan State football players who allegedly raped a woman in an off-campus apartment in January.