Three former Michigan State University football players pleaded guilty today in a sexual assault case.
Josh King, Demetric Vance, and Donnie Corley all took deals with the prosecutor’s office to lesser charges. They were charged last June and accused of assaulting a female student at a party in a campus apartment on January 16 of last year.
The victim alleged King pulled her into a bathroom, pressured her for sex, and when she refused, assaulted her. She told police that King then brought Vance and Corley into the bathroom and forced her to perform oral sex on them.
King was originally charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries a life sentence; one count of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree; one count of capturing/distributing images of an unclothed person.
Corley and Vance were both originally charged with one count of third degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries up to 15 years.
In court this morning, all three pleaded guilty to one count each of “seduction,” a felony that carries up to five years. But the plea deals allow to them to change their guilty plea if the judge sentences them to prison or jail time.
King also pleaded guilty to one count of surveillance. Their sentencing is scheduled for June 6th.
All three defendants declined to offer additional comment through their attorneys, though Vance's attorney, Mary Chartier, noted that they were being sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Training Act, "which means that there will be no conviction if they successfully complete probation.
"There is an agreement with the prosecutor – a Killebrew agreement – for no upfront jail and allowing them to continue to go to college out-of-state," Chartier said in an email Wednesday.
The Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Karen Truszkowski represents the female victim. She said her client is on board with this deal.
"Putting anybody through a trial in this kind of a case is very difficult,” Truszkowski said. “And I think ultimately, I think this was a good outcome as far as keeping her off the stand and not having to relive what happened.
“I think that ultimately, she’d like them to be sent a message that you can’t do this to people, that your behavior was inappropriate, and if they get an appropriate sentence, that they get that message. I think she’d be happy with that. She’d be content with that. Sending them to prison for a long time isn’t going to fix this. It’s not going to change what happened.”
Asked if this outcome sends a message that college athletes get off easy, Truszkowski said that’s possible.
“I think people probably had an expectation that maybe there would be a stronger, um, a stronger outcome than what happened,” she said.
Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon sent a statement to Michigan Radio, which reads, in part:
"The use of “seducing and debauching an unmarried female” as a plea is one that prosecutors have used consistently, but infrequently in the State of Michigan. The law itself is archaic and while the statute itself is valid, it certainly was originally enacted in a bygone era.
"The plea to seduction is a tool that we have as prosecutors, but it is an imperfect tool. It allows the criminal justice system to acknowledge the victim, and it provides an incentive for that offender to plea, in particular because it’s not an offense that requires that they register as a sex offender...
"...The Holmes Youthful Training Act (YTA) is another imperfect tool that is available to prosecutors, defendants, and the courts. We know that the brain is still developing until a person is in their mid-twenties, yet in all too many cases, we have seen young persons incarcerated for offenses for decades, if not life – and burdened with a felony conviction..."
This story was updated on April 6 at 9:35 am to include the prosecutor's statement, and note that the defendants' plea deal also allows them to change their guilty pleas if the judge sentence includes jail time, not just prison.