Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Michigan State players accused of sexual assault

Michigan State has had an eventful offseason, and not necessarily the way Tom Izzo would have liked.

Things got much worse today, as the Michigan Messenger broke the news that two "high profile" Michigan State basketball players were accused of sexual assault late on August 29th and into the early hours of August 30 (a Sunday and Monday). The accusation is horrific, to say the least. From the Messenger:

The heavily redacted police report released by Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III alleges the two team members took turns assaulting an unidentified woman for nearly an hour in their Wonders Hall dormitory room. (Ed. Note: I'm not going to give the details here, but if you'd like to read them follow the link to the Messenger's article. Be forewarned, it is fairly graphic.)
When questioned by the police, one of the players declined comment but the other corroborated the accuser's story.
He told investigators that when it was clear from the victim's statements that she did not want to have sex, he stopped. However, the other player continued "despite her reluctance and statements that she did not want to continue." The victim confirms that player's account.
Making this matter all the more disturbing is that, despite one of the players confirming the girl's story as accurate and support from the police investigators, the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office declined to pursue charges against the players. According to Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings, it was due to information not contained in the police report -- before any media had identified the alleged attackers as basketball players, Dunnings told the State News "After we reviewed the case, we could not convict." -- and the consent of the victim.

But the victim told the Messenger she did was to pursue charges.
"It's really hard to actually get a case to go through because there are twelve jurors and to get them all to see it from my point of view is hard," the victim says Bouck told her. "Then she said she was going to take a defense approach, she started asking me all these questions."

The victim says Bouck grilled her about whether or not it was possible the perpetrators thought the activity was consensual, why she didn't yell and scream and why she didn't run or try and fight her way out of the room. The victim was reduced to tears by the hypothetical interrogation.
There will not be a good outcome here. There is no silver lining. Regardless of the player's intent during this alleged incident, the end result is a young woman who has been traumatized and victimized. Making matters worse, if this woman truly was sexually assaulted, she no doubt feels let down by a justice system that allowed her attackers to get away with their crime. (Ed. Note: assuming the allegations, which were corroborated by one of the alleged attackers, are true.)

The only other thing I am going to say about this incident is that Tom Izzo needs to hand down a hefty punishment here. I argued the opposite this morning in regards to the Tre'Von Willis case, but the facts here are different. Not to downplay domestic violence, but sexual assault -- by two people at the same time -- is a much more serious offense. And in this instance, there isn't a dispute as to the facts. One of the alleged attackers corroborated the victim's account of events. This is not a case he-said, she-said. Its they-said.

There needs to be a punishment with some substance.

I mentioned this earlier, but this offseason has to be, by far, the most tumultuous of Tom Izzo's career. He almost left the school to become the head coach of the Cavs. He had to kick Chris Allen off the team. Korie Lucious picked up a DUI (on the same night as alleged sexual assault) before having to undergo surgery on his knee. Kalin Lucas has been recovering from his torn achilles. Seldom used Dion Sims was allegedly a part of a scam to steal laptops.

I'm sure Izzo cannot wait for the season to start.

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