Michigan State University hit with yet another sexual assault lawsuit
The Spartan mascot of Michigan State University. | AP

“MSU has fostered a culture in which female victims are discouraged from reporting sexual assaults when those assaults are perpetrated by male athletes, thus protecting the university, the male athletics programs, and the male athletes at the expense of female victims.” – Jane Doe v. Michigan State University and Unidentified ROE

That fierce allegation is found in a federal lawsuit filed Monday by a female student against Michigan State University charging that three former basketball players sexually assaulted her in 2015. She was discouraged from reporting the assault by school officials. The female student and players are not named in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

The lawsuit also accuses Michigan State of failing to comply with Title IX requirements by not providing the student with equal protection under the law, and says the school “created an unwritten, official policy that created a culture in which male MSU athletes felt entitled and emboldened to commit sexual assaults without consequence.”

The student’s attorney, Karen Truszkowski, told the Associated Press Monday that she would withhold comments to give MSU “an opportunity to get up to speed and go over it.

“They do have it, and they have reviewed it,” she added.

This latest legal action comes one week after three ex-football players pled guilty to reduced charges in the 2017 sexual assault of a woman in an apartment bathroom, and while former MSU sports physician Larry Nassar spends the rest of his natural life in prison for sexually assaulting hundreds of young girls and women during his time at the school and with USA Gymnastics.

Monday’s lawsuit reads that the female student, only 18 at the time, met the players at an East Lansing bar one week after a loss to Duke University in the Final Four. She was taken to an off-campus apartment where she was told there was an after-party.

At one point in the evening, while she was feeling “discombobulated” and unsuccessfully tried to “send a phone text,” the players took turns sexually assaulting her in a bedroom, according to the lawsuit.

After relaying details of basketball players’ involvement in the assault to the university’s counseling center staff, she said the staff made it clear that if she reported it to the police she would face “an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention.”

The lawsuit states, “Plaintiff was so discouraged by the representations made by the MSUCC Counseling staff she became frightened to the point that she decided she could not report the rape(s) to law enforcement.”

She initially did not seek assistance from the school’s sexual assault program until 10 months later.

Speaking anonymously with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, the student said she filed the lawsuit in the hope that it would encourage more women to come forward about assault, and send a direct message to the university.

“I don’t want a girl who’s a senior in high school right now, with her whole life ahead of her, to have to go through the same thing I did.”

Read the full lawsuit here.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.