MSU ordered to release names of suspects

Posted: 7:27 AM, Dec 24, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-24 07:27:29-05

Five years ago, a young woman alleged she was raped by two Michigan State basketball players.

The case never went to court; Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said there wasn't enough evidence.

But the story is back in the spotlight because ESPN requested public records about it.

Privacy Law Expert and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Cooley Law School Mark Dotson says ESPN put in a request for the records "to determine whether police departments were treating athletes differently from anybody else, which is also perhaps a substantial societal interest."

The University said it couldn't give names or identifying information about suspects, victims, or witnesses because that would violate privacy laws.

"The court, this particular court, in this particular instance, decided that society's interest in knowing trumped the privacy interest of the players," Dotson said.

The Michigan Supreme Court decided it would not hear the case. MSU has been ordered to release the names.

"MSU is disappointed that the state Supreme Court chose not to hear our appeal. We believe there were legitimate privacy concerns raised in this case, and we would have welcomed the opportunity to present them to the Court. That being said, we will abide by the decision and will fulfill ESPN's FOIA request as stipulated by the Court of Appeals' ruling from August 2015," the university said in a statement.

Some students thought the ruling was fair, but disagreed about whether student-athletes receive preferential treatment at MSU.

"I bleed green and white, believe me I do, but that doesn't give you the right to not have to obey the law and follow the same laws as the rest of us," Mark Hall, who says certain, high-profile athletes probably do get special treatment from the police, said.

"Definitely not here, I don't think that our student athletes get any special treatment by the police here," MSU Junior Sarah Corr said.

ESPN released a statement quoted in a story on its website saying, "We are pleased with the appellate court's decision to uphold the public's right to open records, and we continue to report on this story."