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sexual assault

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University trustees clashed today  over a trustee’s recent outing of a whistleblower in a sexual assault case involving the school’s football program.

MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons has come under fire for his comments on a Tuesday radio interview that former player Auston Robertson reported a January sexual assault incident in a meeting with Mark Dantonio.

Caleb Woods/Upsplash

Dr. Larry Nassar is back in court this week. The former Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor is accused of sexually abusing dozens of patients, under the guise of treatment.


MSU football helmet
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State University police announced Tuesday morning that three of the school’s football players have been charged with sexual assault.

Spartan Stadium
Ed Schipul / Flickr

Josh King, Donnie Corley Jr, and Demetric Vance were officially charged with sexual assault Tuesday morning, MSU police announced.

“King has been charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of capturing/distributing image of an unclothed person. Vance and Corley Jr. each has been charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct,” the department said in a release.

C/O Youtube

Michigan State University will not renew its contract with Curtis Blackwell, a school spokesman confirmed Tuesday. The news was first reported by Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press.

Blackwell, a former Detroit high school coach and co-founder of the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp, was brought on staff for his relationships with potential recruits in the region.

Kate Wells

“How you doing, kiddo?” Judge Donald Allen asked a 17-year-old witness who’d just wrapped up a long, disturbing story of sexual assault that she says has damaged both her ability to trust and her desire to be touched. “That wasn’t fun,” she admitted, her eyes red and wet for the first time since she took the stand.

“Better than the dentist?” the judge joked.

“I’d much rather go to the dentist,” she replied.

Judge's gavel
Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A school district in western Michigan has settled a lawsuit with four young women who say they were inappropriately touched by a former Major League Baseball player who worked at Lakewood High School.

Details of the settlement haven't been released. A federal judge signed an order Thursday dismissing the Lakewood district from the case. Chad Curtis remains in the lawsuit.

lower half of gymnast on balance beam
James Thomas/flickr creative commons

Former Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar will be back in district court in Mason today. He'll face some of the women and girls who claim he sexually abused them while he was supposed to be treating their injuries.

Kate Wells

The courtroom was ready for an intense day: this is, after all, a case in which the defendant has been accused of sexual assault by not just the seven women and girls in this particular hearing, but by more than 80 complainants thus far, according to the Michigan State Police.

It was just the first of what may well be three days of testimony, as 55th District Court Judge Donald Allen weighs whether there’s enough evidence against Dr. Larry Nassar, former MSU sports doctor and  Olympic gymnastics team physician, to go to trial in this case.

DREW, COOPER & ANDING / YOUTUBE VIDEO

Today, seven women and girls are expected to testify against a doctor they say sexually abused them.

They are some of more than 100 women and girls who’ve alleged Dr. Larry Nassar abused them while they were in gymnastic programs at Michigan State University (MSU) or USA Gymnastics (USAG). Nassar was the team physician for both.

(To see how the allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar unfolded, click here.)

Complaints against Larry Nassar range from the late 1990s up to 2016.
From one of Nassar's YouTube videos

Dr. Larry Nassar, a former athletic doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, is accused of assaulting a young girl under the age of 13 in his home. He has been ordered to stand trial. If convicted, Nassar faces up to life in prison.

Judge's gavel
Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Rachael Denhollander will be the first to take the stand at 9 am on Friday, according to her attorney. It's the first day of preliminary hearings in a case involving her and 6 other alleged victims, who claim they were abused by Dr. Larry Nassar. 

“Yeah, I’m really not looking forward to it, to be honest,” Denhollander says. The mom of three is at home on the phone, while her husband’s in the background wrangling their 2-year-old (whose molars are coming in painfully and loudly.)

Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Records show a Michigan State University doctor resigned in January after learning the school was considering her termination because she didn't disclose that USA Gymnastics was investigating Dr. Larry Nassar.

lower half of gymnast on balance beam
James Thomas/flickr creative commons

Katie Payne lives in California now. She and her sister, Maureen Payne Baum, grew up in the Detroit area.

Their mom still lives there. And a few months ago, their mom was driving to work, listening to news on the radio, when a story came on. A US Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor was being accused of sexual abuse.

It was just 4 a.m. in California. But Payne’s mom called her anyway.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

The story broke last September in the Indianapolis Star. Complaints surfaced that a Michigan State University sports physician has been sexually assaulting young gymnasts for nearly 20 years.

To date, more than 60 women and girls have stepped forward to tell police they were sexually assaulted by Dr Larry Nassar.
 

More than 30 have filed civil lawsuits against Michigan State and Dr. Nassar, who is currently in the Ingham County Jail facing federal and state charges of sexual assault and child pornography.

Lansing-area attorney Jamie White represents ten of Dr. Nassar's alleged victims, including a current scholarship member of the MSU women's gynmastics team.

Michigan Attorney General's office

A Michigan doctor who formerly worked for USA Gymnastics and is facing sexual assault charges has been indicted on child pornography charges.

The child pornography indictment against Dr. Larry Nassar was unsealed Friday in federal court in Grand Rapids. He's already charged with sexual assault in state court and is a target in civil lawsuits filed by former female gymnasts.

The indictment says Nassar received child pornography and possessed thousands of images, from 2003 through 2016.

The Michigan Union covered in blooming ivy
Wikimedia Commons

There were fewer reported cases of student sexual misconduct at the University of Michigan last year. 

In the 2015-16 fiscal year, there were 157 reports of student sexual misconduct -- a drop from 172 reports in the previous year. 

Flickr user/Devon Buchanan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was a case that ignited the nation: Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind an alley dumpster after a party.

user mconnors / morgueFile

Michigan State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, introduced a new bill to ban registered sex offenders from working in organizations that serve sexual assault victims or children.

He drafted the bill in response to recent reports that three registered sexual offenders were found working for The Listening Ear in Lansing. The Listening Ear runs a crisis hotline for sexual assault victims. 

Hertel said he assumed it must be illegal already for the organization to have neglected screening volunteers for being on the sex offender registry, but it was completely legal.

A Lansing-based non-profit organization will begin doing background checks on its volunteers.

Listening Ear is a non-profit organization that supports sexual assault survivors among other groups.

Carly Geraci is the organization's media liaison and she says this change in philosophy hasn't been easy.

Geraci says, "For 47 years, we did not require background checks, and that was because we were tying to go for a judgement free, non-discriminatory environment."

SafeHouse Center director Barbara Niess-May told us community is key in preventing domestic violence and protecting victims.
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When someone is diagnosed with cancer or gets in a car accident, he or she is often surrounded by comfort, support and sympathy.

So why is it that a 14-year-old girl is raped and the attack videotaped, law enforcement responds by peppering her with hundreds of questions before charges are brought?

Its an injustice repeated over and over again, and it has led to a national campaign called “Start by Believing."

This week, Washtenaw County became the first in Michigan to be a Start by Believing county.

Uniting Three Fires Against Violence advocacy organization logo.
Uniting Three Fires Against Violence

The Next Idea

How does a community address domestic violence and sexual assault when calling the police is not often an option?

This is the question facing Native communities in Michigan, according to Lori Jump and Rachel Carr of the advocacy group Uniting Three Fires Against Violence.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder has proposed spending $500,000 for campus sexual assault prevention programs in his budget.

  The grant money would be split among universities if lawmakers give it the green light.

  But some advocates say it's not enough for all of the programs they'd like to run. And some students at Michigan State University are critical of administrators and a university policy requiring employees to report sexual misconduct even when the survivor says he or she doesn't want the incident reported.

Sixty days.  That’s how long universities are supposed to take to investigate sexual assault cases.

But at Michigan State University, those investigations can drag on for seven, eight, even nine months.

A recent federal report slammed MSU for taking too long to resolve sexual assault cases.

But a Michigan Radio investigation has found the problems at MSU go far deeper than that. 

Coasters with sexual assault awareness messages are being distributed this month in Saginaw bars catering to a college age crowd.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At 13 bars popular with local college students in Saginaw, bartenders are handing out sexual assault awareness messages along with the drinks.

The Saginaw County Sexual Violence Prevention Team and other groups have printed hundreds of bar coasters with sexual assault awareness messages in the form of popular songs with their lyrics slightly altered.

Mark Schlissel
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week marks the one year anniversary since Dr. Mark Schlissel became the University of Michigan’s 14th president.

He took over the job in a somewhat tumultuous time: complaints over high tuition costs, the university’s handling of sexual assaults, and an athletic department under heavy scrutiny.

Joe Gratz / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

By the end of September, survivors of sexual assault will have new rights.

The Sexual Assault Victim’s Access To Justice Act sets up an array of victims' rights in sexual assault cases.

The act requires police agencies to inform survivors about how they can get help and support, where the survivor can get free medical care and testing, and to do it all within 24 hours of the first contact with the survivor.

pile of one  dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explains the latest road funding proposal, an effort by the Snyder administration to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and the latest on efforts to help ease the foreclosure crisis in Wayne County.

Jake Neher / MPRN

For the first time, Michigan will spend general fund dollars to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

State lawmakers recently approved a budget with $500,000 dollars in grant money that programs can apply for.

Michigan Attorney General's office

A former priest, teacher and wrestling coach at a Michigan Catholic school has been charged with sexually assaulting several boys more than three decades ago.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says 75-year-old James Rapp was arraigned Thursday in Jackson District Court on 13 counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Schuette says the investigation started in 2013, when two men came forward with allegations of past abuse.

Rapp was assigned to Jackson Lumen Christi High School at the time. He was told to leave in 1987, following allegations a student was molested.

Rapp was sentenced to prison in 1999 for sexually abusing teenage boys in Oklahoma.

He was jailed Thursday pending a June 26 preliminary examination. He’s being held on a $1 million bond.  

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