Bailey Kowalski knew that she was opening herself up to criticism by going public, but she did it anyway because she wants to help other survivors find the courage to come forward.
“I am here today because i want you to understand the damage…the damage that this does to a person.”
Michigan State University student Bailey Kowalski has been struggling since her freshman year at MSU, when she says three members of the Spartan basketball team raped her. A friend led her to the school counseling center a week later..hoping they would help her.
“At the time I needed help most, I went to the Michigan State counseling center,” Kowalski said, “where I was told, during freshman orientation, that I would find support.”
But instead of giving her guidance or resources, Kowalski says staff members told her not to make a police report or get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. She says they didn’t make her aware of her Title IX rights.
“Instead I was intimidated and I was told that i was gonna be ‘swimming with some really big fish,’” Kowalski said. “I’ll never forget that phrase and the immediate feeling of despair and isolation.”
Kowalski says it took a toll on her mental health and her family. She filed a lawsuit against MSU in 2018 but didn’t give her name or the names of the men who assaulted her.
Today she says she is done being Jane Doe, and with the support of her family and other survivors, she spoke out.
“I am no longer afraid,” Kowalski said. “I’m empowered to do this, and I have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by.”
MSU filed a motion in 2018 to have Kowalski’s lawsuit dismissed, claiming that they’re not responsible under Title IX for an assault that happened off campus.