MSU’s public defense on rape allegation could be counter-productive

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The public response by Michigan State University to a federal lawsuit filed Monday by a student claiming she was raped by three former basketball players has some upset. They argue MSU’s claims of untruths in the lawsuit could increase the number of future students not reporting a sexual assault or getting help by a counselor.

The online statement by MSU officials detailing reasons why the plaintiff, listed as Jane Doe, are wrong about a 2015 sexual assault by three basketball players is very complete and arguably convincing, but some believe this should have been presented in a court of law, or through mediation, not be open for public consumption.

Some also believe this action by school officials may send the message that any sort of complaint provided to Spartan officials of sexual assault could be met with resistance or be made public.

Karen Gallagher, owner of the Wellness Institute of Michigan in Okemos says for an institution like MSU, at this moment of time, to publicly call out a woman who says she was sexually assaulted is counter-productive.

“They are already struggling to be able to talk about it, so if there is a negative atmosphere or a negative sense of responsibility that comes from within an organization or any institution, it would make it much more difficult to speak out.”

Some are also saying this public release of detailed information regarding a lawsuit and an alleged sexual assault could violate a couple of privacy laws.

MSU Interim President John Engler’s office said he wasn’t available for comment on the matter, and repeated messages to the attorney representing the women filing the lawsuit have not been returned.

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