Michigan State players charged with sexual assault

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Three Michigan State football players have been charged with sexual assault related to an alleged January attack, according to a statement from the Ingham County prosecutor Monday afternoon.

"I have decided to authorize sexual assault charges against the three persons whose warrants were requested by the MSU Police," prosecutor Carol Siemon said. "We are alleging that on the night of January 16, those three persons sexually assaulted a woman in an East Lansing apartment on campus."

The players have not yet been named. The prosecutor's office does not typically release the names of those charged with crimes until they have been arraigned. The three players are expected to be arraigned within the next few days.

"I'm pleased to see the process is moving along. This is just one more step along the way,'' Karen Truszkowski, an attorney for the accuser, told The Associated Press.

Minutes before the prosecutor made her decision public, the board of trustees told reporters that coach Mark Dantonio and athletic director Mark Hollis had their "full support" moving forward. That statement came at the conclusion of an hourslong, closed-door meeting during which Dantonio and Hollis updated the board on the current status of the football program and reviewed an outside law firm's investigation into how the football staff handled the alleged sexual assault.

The report, completed recently by Jones Day law firm, found evidence that former staffer Curtis Blackwell violated the university's relationship violence and sexual misconduct policy. Blackwell, according to the report, spoke to three players and a parent about the incident in January without reporting to his superiors what he learned from those conversations. Jones Day said the firm was not able to determine the severity of Blackwell's violation because he and the three players declined to speak to their investigators.

Blackwell was suspended in February as a result of the sexual assault investigation. His contract was allowed to expire at the end of May. University president Lou Anna K. Simon said the board did not discuss his conduct during Monday's meeting because he was no longer a university employee.

Simon said Dantonio's handling of the sexual assaults was "above reproach" and all current senior members of the football staff complied with university regulations in reporting the incident to proper authorities. The Jones Day report said Dantonio immediately alerted appropriate university officials when he learned about the incident.

"Coach Dantonio handled this with the utmost integrity and swiftness," Simon said. "That takes all those issues off the board with respect to coach Dantonio and the team that is currently there."