MSU files motion to dismiss complaint in former MSU sprinter case

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By Maddie Monroe

Michigan State University filed a motion to dismiss a complaint regarding sexual assault from a former MSU track athlete Monday.

The original complaint said the plaintiff was sexually assaulted by another athlete on the track and field team. She then reported the assault to one of her track coaches, Yolanda Johnson, on March 7, 2017. Johnson then reported the incident to MSUPD and the survivor was interviewed by MSUPD later that day.

The survivor’s testimony said after her interview with MSUPD, other members on the team approached her and said she would “suffer adverse consequences” if she pursued a complaint.

As a result, the student-athlete denied any further participation in an investigation and declined to pursue an internal MSU complaint. According to court documents, she did not report this to anyone or that MSU had any knowledge of the assault before the lawsuit was filed.

In May of 2017, coach Yolanda Johnson told the survivor she would have to switch from running sprints to middle-distance races if she wanted to remain on the team, according to the court document. She implied but did not allege that this request to switch was made to accommodate the reported abuser. However, as set forth in the declaration of head coach Walter Drenth, that inference would be false, and that her alleged abuser was suspended from the team shortly after she reported the assault and did not return to the team. The decision to move her was solely on her performance as a runner, the document said.

She chose not to remain on the team as a middle-distance runner and transferred to Grand Valley State University the following year to pursue sprinting.

The student-athlete then filed a suit against MSU as part of a larger set of lawsuits against the NCAA involving at least two other institutions. The lawsuit involved a potential failure to uphold Title IX regulations after the alleged sexual assault in March 2017. According to the lawsuit, MSU never provided her with an explanation of her rights under Title IX or that she had a right to interim measures of action even if she didn’t wish to pursue a Title IX investigation.

The recent motion filed by MSU claims that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the Title IX claim is barred by the statute of limitations, and that the Title IX peer-on-peer harassment claim is barred by Kollaritsch.

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