Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has decided not to file charges against former Michigan State basketball player Brock Washington after a woman who said he sexually assaulted her asked the state agency to review her claim.
"As with any report of alleged sexual misconduct, our prosecutors took this case very seriously and conducted a comprehensive investigation to determine whether additional action was warranted by our office," Ryan Jarvi, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said in a statement to ESPN on Wednesday. "However, a thorough evaluation of the circumstances, witness testimony and other information surrounding this reported incident did not support the filing of criminal charges."
The woman, who was not a Michigan State student but attended a local community college, had appealed to the attorney general in March after the Ingham County prosecutor declined to file charges. Michigan State University police told prosecutors that they had probable cause that Washington raped the woman Jan. 19 while she was too intoxicated to consent.
Mary Chartier, an attorney for Washington, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday.
In a text message to ESPN, the woman who sought the AG's investigation said officials from the attorney general's office told her that investigators were having trouble getting a witness to cooperate and had questions about the honesty of the witness. That witness had provided conflicting statements to police. The attorney general's office told the woman they told her they "felt that it would be more traumatizing for me to go through the trial and be put on the stand."
When asked about the woman's statement, Jarvi said the agency had no further response.
"I never felt like I was fighting for my justice," the woman wrote in the text message. "I always felt like I was fighting for other women so that it didn't happen to them. I'm ready to find peace and maybe this is how I will heal."
The Michigan State Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) also conducted a Title IX investigation into the allegations against Washington and determined in August that a "preponderance of the evidence" established that he had sexually assaulted the woman. It recommended that Washington be permanently barred from classes and banned from campus for two years.
Washington's attorneys appealed that ruling in September, stating that he did nothing wrong and was denied due process, in part because he was not granted a hearing. Washington had declined to be interviewed by Michigan State investigators, who instead used his statement to Michigan State University police in making their determination. Chartier said in a statement to ESPN at the time that Washington "is yet another Black man accused by a white woman, and the man is denied due process because the woman is automatically believed despite significant evidence to the contrary."
Michigan State's Title IX office had determined the case was not eligible for a hearing because "there was not a disagreement about any of the relevant facts," according to an OIE letter addressed to the woman on Aug. 4.
But Michigan State's equity review officer, Aislinn Sapp, who reviewed Washington's appeal of the final decision and sanctions, said there needed to be a hearing because there was a dispute as to whether the woman was incapacitated or merely intoxicated at the time of the alleged assault. Video evidence, medical information and witness statements used in the OIE report show the woman was incapacitated after, and not during, the sexual encounter, according to the letter, so Sapp sent the case back to OIE with instructions to offer the parties an opportunity to request a hearing.
A hearing has not yet been scheduled, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
This was not the first sexual assault allegation against Washington. In August 2017, a female Michigan State student reported to police that Washington forcibly groped her in a residence hall. A criminal investigation resulted in Michigan State police recommending that Washington be charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and unlawful entry. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault in March 2018 and was allowed to remain on the basketball team and on campus. In October 2017, Michigan State's Title IX office found Washington not responsible for sexual misconduct.