East Lansing — On Tuesday, a Michigan State University Trustee said former football player Auston Robertson was the one who reported three teammates’ involvement in an alleged sexual assault that occurred on campus in January.
By Wednesday afternoon, Mitch Lyons was saying he “misspoke” and added in a message to The News that he “confused the cases with Robertson having legal issues of his own.”
According to a radio interview Lyons conducted on The Huge Show on 107.3 WBBL in Grand Rapids, Robertson was the reporting player for a Jan. 16 incident that has resulted in sexual assault charges and the dismissal from the team of Josh King, Donnie Corley and Demetric Vance.
Lyons was a guest on The Huge Show on Tuesday afternoon and was describing how coach Mark Dantonio learned of the alleged incident during a regular weekly meeting with Robertson.
“When Auston Robertson came into his office for a regular weekly meeting, Coach D asked the regular questions he typically asked him and then he became a little emotional and didn’t go into detail, just alluded to the fact something happened,” Lyons said. “And Coach D had a sense it involved some sort of sexual allegation and he immediately said don’t say anymore, called the OIE (Office of Institutional Equity) office and got the appropriate person involved.”
Lyons’ message did not make clear what he had confused and did not state, in fact, Robertson was not the reporting player.
Robertson’s potential involvement in the case is especially bizarre considering roughly three months later he was accused of sexual assault in a separate case. Roberston was charged with third-degree criminal sexual assault in late April after an alleged incident in Meridian Township on April 9. Dantonio dismissed him from the team on April 21 after the charges were authorized in 55th District Court.
Lyons’ radio interview drew a response Wednesday afternoon from MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam, who said in a statement, "I can neither confirm nor deny Mitch Lyon's (sic) comments today.
“As MSU Trustees we have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to choose our words wisely, protect our students, faculty and institution. Today Trustee Lyons, once again, has damaged the university by his words and actions.”
The description Lyons gave fits what was in the Jones Day report, an external review into the football staff’s handling of both the Jan. 16 case and the one in April that led to Robertson’s dismissal. The report, however, did not identify the “reporting player.”
“… the reporting player had a meeting with Head Coach Mark Dantonio — a regularly-scheduled weekly meeting with the reporting player to monitor his academic, athletic, and social progress,” the report stated. “During the meeting, which took place shortly before 2:00 p.m., the reporting player became emotional and began to make a statement regarding a woman whom he had helped, saying, ‘I had to get her out of there. She is my friend.’ The reporting player did not provide details of what occurred, when it occurred, where it occurred, or who was involved. He also did not inform Dantonio that the situation involved sexual misconduct or assault. Nonetheless, Dantonio suspected the reporting player was a potential witness to an incident that could implicate the University’s RVSM policy. Dantonio stopped the player so Dantonio could immediately contact OIE.”
Lyons and the rest of the Board reviewed the report during a regular work session Monday, with Dantonio and athletic director Mark Hollis. Lyons added that Dantonio and the Board have reviewed the Title IX investigation, which included details of the case.
“Much to what Coach D said, criminal or not, the actions they admitted to doing, from a moral standpoint, are disgusting and have no place in our university,” Lyons said on the radio.
Robertson’s attorney, David Rosenberg, did not return a message seeking comment, nor did Lyons.
King was arraigned Wednesday in 54B District Court on one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and a count of capturing an image of an unclothed person. He faces up to life in prison if convicted. King faces up to life in prison on the first-degree charge and had bond set at $25,000.
Corley was arraigned Wednesday on third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges while Vance was arraigned Tuesday on the same charge. They face up to 15 years if convicted and both had bond set at $10,000.