Report Finds MSU Coach & Officials Properly Handled Information on Assault
In an independent report to Michigan State University, the Jones Day law firm asserted that senior leaders within the Athletic Department made no attempts to obstruct or subvert sexual assault investigations pertaining to four football players.
Michigan State football head coach Mark Dantonio was among those explicitly referenced in the report, and the Jones Day document stated that
Coach Dantonio took prompt and decisive action - Jones Day Report
he “took prompt and decisive action” and did not “impede, obstruct or interfere with” the investigation.
Dantonio was originally informed by players about alleged sexual assaults in January and April, and in both cases, immediately relayed the information and contacts to University authorities.
MSU's Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy determines that “all University employees are expected to promptly report sexual misconduct or relationship violence that they observe or learn about” with regards to MSU, and that such reports should be delivered to the Michigan State University Police Department (MSU PD) and the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).
FIRST SEXUAL ASSAULT INCIDENT
In January, an unnamed player was “emotional” in a regular meeting with Dantonio when discussing a female friend. The source is quoted in the report as having said, "I had to get her out of there. She is my friend."
I had to get her out of there. She is my friend. - MSU football player
From there, Dantonio contacted the Office of Institutional Equity, who then followed up with the player. Dantonio also informed athletic director Mark Hollis of what had transpired, although he did not know at the time that it was a case of sexual assault.
The same day as the Jones Day report was released, Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon announced that she would press sexual assault charges against three football players but not the staff member. Robertson already has been charged and dismissed by the team.
SECOND SEXUAL ASSAULT INCIDENT
In April, a different player called Dantonio and said that a woman he knew was raped by another football player. Dantonio called Chief Jim Dunlap of the MSU PD to pass along both what he had learned and the contact information of the informant. He also reached out to the OIE.
On April 21, Auston Robertson was charged with third-degree sexual assault for the latter incident, which can amount up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted.
The Jones Day report did implicate one since-released staff member as having violated University protocol. An MSU spokesman identified Curtis Blackwell as the staff member to Detroit Free Press sports writer Chris Solari.
The report published that Blackwell reached out to the accused players and a family member following the January incident to find out more, a violation of University code. Blackwell declined to be interviewed for the report, and Jones Day published that it “was unable to fully assess” what he did without his input.
Blackwell was suspended with pay during the investigation. His contract expired at the end of May and was not renewed.
The goal of the Jones Day investigation was only to study responses of staff members who were involved in the investigations, not to deal with the alleged sexual assaults themselves.