4th MSU football player investigated in separate case

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — A current Michigan State football player is under investigation for sexual assault after an incident that occurred over the weekend in Meridian Township.

According the Meridian Township Police and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office, the incident centers on a current Michigan State football player, and the investigation is ongoing.

Meridian Township Police assistant chief Ken Plaga said the department received a criminal sexual assault complaint on Sunday, April 9. He said the investigation will be “thorough” and hoped it would be completed by next week.

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio issued a statement Thursday saying the player was suspended as soon as the team was notified of the incident.

“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.”

The news comes as a separate incident involving three players continues to be considered for charges by the Ingham County Prosecutor. Those three players, who remain unidentified, have been suspended from the program and missed all of Michigan State’s spring practice.

That investigation also has resulted in the suspension of staffer Curtis Blackwell and has triggered a separate Title IX investigation.

According to Scott Hughes, a spokesman for the Ingham County Prosecutor, there has been no change in status of that case as it remains under review. In addition to that criminal case, Michigan State is also undergoing a Title IX investigation, as well as an independent review of the football staff’s handling of the incident.

The latest issue came to light on Thursday after the prosecutor’s office confirmed its knowledge of the investigation in Meridian Township.

“The Prosecutor’s Office is aware that there is a sexual assault investigation being conducted by Meridian Twp. Police, where the suspect is an MSU football player,” Hughes said in an email. “Nothing has yet been submitted to prosecutors, nor filed in court.”

Following Thursday’s regular meeting of Michigan State’s Board of Trustees, MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon was asked about the latest issue with the football team.

“Sexual assault by anyone, or allegations, concern me deeply," Simon said. "We work hard to treat student athletes, in the case of the university, as any other student, and in the case of athletics in the standard protocol for that team. I understand the student has been suspended by the coach pending the outcome of the investigation.”

The football program has been operating under the cloud of the first investigation since February, which led to a media blackout throughout spring practice.

Fifteen players on the spring roster were not in uniform for the spring game on April 1, and earlier this week, Dantonio was asked if any players who did play in the game have since been suspended.

“We red-lock people from time to time,” Dantonio said on the Big Ten spring teleconference. “We use the term red-lock for various things. So yes, there has been. That’s a constant. There’s constant people in and out of different situations, and I think that’s normal.”