A fourth Michigan State player is suspended from the football program amid a new investigation into an alleged sexual assault.
Assistant chief Ken Plaga of Meridian Township Police, said a player is involved in an ongoing investigation his unit is handling. He said the alleged incident happened Sunday in the township, which is adjacent to East Lansing.
“Our No. 1 concern right now is for the victim,” Plaga said. “The prosecuting attorney’s office hasn’t even seen our report because our investigation is not yet complete. Once we have completed our investigation and had the issue reviewed by the Ingham County prosecuting attorney’s office and, subsequently, a suspect has been arrested and arraigned, we will then release the information of the suspect’s name and a photograph.”
University president Lou Anna K. Simon, after the MSU Board of Trustees meeting this morning, said that the fourth player has been suspended from the football team.
MSU football coach Mark Dantonio issued a statement about the situation this afternoon.
“We are aware of a sexual-assault investigation in Meridian Township involving one of our players. That player was immediately suspended on Sunday from all team activities, as soon as we were notified of the situation,” Dantonio said. “We will continue to educate and enforce high standards for the program. I expect all of our players to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and principles of Michigan State University.
“This investigation is an ongoing process. It is not appropriate at this time for me to comment further on this matter.”
Scott Hughes, a spokesman for the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office, also confirmed the criminal sexual assault investigation. No charges have been submitted to prosecutors, and the case has not yet been filed in court, Hughes said.
Hughes said the incident is separate from the ongoing investigation into three MSU players about an alleged sexual assault that occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 16 at University Village Apartments on campus. That case remains under review by Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, Hughes said today.
Plaga said he expects Meridian Township Police to wrap up their investigation early next week and request charges to Siemon.
Dantonio, when asked Wednesday whether anyone who participated in the April 1 spring game have been suspended or no longer are with the program, said some players beyond the 15 who did not dress for the scrimmage are in what he termed a “red-lock” situation.
“Well, we red-lock people from time to time," he said. "We use the term red-lock for various things. So yes, there has been. That’s a constant. There is constant people in and out of different situations. I think that is normal.”
During the Board of Trustees meeting this morning, Simon said the university is bringing in independent experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of MSU’s Title IX programs this fall. Simon said the school must do all it can to protect people who come to campus.
Curtis Blackwell, the program’s director of college advancement and performance, was suspended Feb. 9. That was exactly a week after the university hired an external Title IX investigator into the first incident that was reported to MSU Police on Jan. 17.
There are three investigations into that situation.
The first is the criminal case, which has been under review by Siemon since March 14. There is no timeline for when or whether charges will be filed. MSU Police are seeking four warrants in the case.
The second is the Title IX investigation, which is being undertaken externally by Rebecca Veidlinger. The Ann Arbor attorney who previously worked in MSU’s Title IX office signed a contract with the university Feb. 2. That is focused on potential violations of the university’s relationship-violence and sexual-misconduct policy.
The third is an external probe into the football program, which is being conducted by attorneys with Jones Day law firm. That began Feb. 10, the day after the announcement of the suspensions of the three players and staff member.
On March 28, Dantonio was asked, as a father of two daughters who attended MSU, what he would say to parents of students about his program’s responsibilities.
“I guess what I would say is what I always say: I do my very best to protect our community, protect our environment, protect my family,” Dantonio said. “The message that I would send to everybody out there is that I’m going to do the right thing to the best of my abilities.”
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Contact Chris Solari: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@chrissolari.