LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Attorney General's Office is taking over the rape investigation involving three former Michigan State University basketball players, a source confirmed to Fox 47.
Lansing Township police started the investigation after Bailey Kowalski went public in April of 2019. Lansing Township Police Chief John E. Joseph told Fox 47 the only reason why Kowalski's case was sent to the Attorney General's Office is because the township police department has been without a full-time detective for several months.
"There's no other underlying reasons, except that I thought the (Attorney General's Office) would be able to handle the case at this time," Chief Joseph said. "We're all capable of doing it, but I thought to give (the case) what it deserves, the Attorney General's Office has more resources."
In a lawsuit filed against Michigan State University, Kowalski claims the former players raped her at an off-campus apartment. She says she met them at Harper's bar in East Lansing sometime after midnight on April 12, 2015.
She claims one player offered to buy her a drink and took her to meet other members of the basketball team. Kowalski says she wanted to meet them because she was a sports journalism major at the time.
Kowalski says the players later invited her to a party at their apartment and led her to believe her roommate who'd accompanied her to the bar was already there.
Upon arriving at the apartment she says she began to feel extremely hungry and thirsty and was unable to control her hands well enough to send a text message or operate a laptop computer.
She says one of the players offered to show her his basketball memorabilia in his bedroom, but then threw her face down on the bed and raped her. Kowalski claims the other two players then took turns raping her.
She says she doesn't remember anything else until she woke up the next morning on a couch and took a taxi ride home.
Kowalski says she reported the rape to a counselor at Michigan State University Counseling Center eight days later. She claims the counselor's attitude changed when she mentioned her attackers were MSU basketball players.
She says the counselor brought someone else into the room and that, "MSUCC staff made it clear to Plaintiff that if she chose to notify the police, she faced an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention and publicity as had happened with many other female students who were sexually assaulted by well-known athletes."
Kowalski's lawsuit claims the staff went on to tell her the best thing she could do was "just get yourself better" and that "if you pursue this, you are going to be swimming with some really big fish."
Kowalski says she was so discouraged by the conversation that she decided not to report the rape to law enforcement. She also says MSUCC staff violated its protocols by failing to inform her of her Title IX rights, accommodations or protections.
The three alleged rapists are not named in the lawsuit. Court documents refer to them as John Doe 1, John Doe 2 and John Doe 3. The lawsuit does not list them as defendants. Kowalski is suing Michigan State for alleged violations of Title IX, the federal law banning sexual discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding.
In June of 2019, ESPN reported MSU investigators cleared the three former players.
In August of 2019, a federal judge denied Michigan State's request to dismiss Kowalski's lawsuit. District Court Judge Paul Maloney said it is plausible that MSU covered up sexual assault claims brought against its athletes.
The Attorney General's Office will not confirm that it's taken over the investigation or comment on it in any way. The Ingham County Prosecutor's Office tells wilx.com it's aware the Lansing Township Police Department planned to hand it off to the Attorney General's Office but did not know if it had happened as of Thursday afternoon. Lansing Township Police Chief John Joseph could not be reached for comment.
Fox 47 will continue to update this developing story as soon as new information is available.
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