East Lansing – The state of Michigan responds to a recent report that basketball coach Tom Izzo may have interfered with an investigation into a member of the basketball team.
ESPN released a report on Thursday that Izzo and assistant coaches Dwayne Stephens and Mike Garland contacted a witness in pedestrian investigation Brock Washington, who was charged with criminal sexual conduct after a meeting on campus in 2017 The story came after ESPN examined documents in which the witness said he did not think the coaches were trying to “get information”.
Sports director Bill Beekman released a statement on Thursday afternoon defending Izzo and his team.
“Tom Izzo has been a beacon of integrity in his profession for almost four decades, including a quarter of a century as a head coach,” Beekman said in the release. “The Michigan State Equity Office has publicly stated that no policy has been violated regarding the actions of male basketball personnel in a Title IX investigation into a student. There is no evidence to suggest that male basketball staff have conducted their own investigation or obstructed an investigation that is underway. Any contrary suggestion is nothing more than an attempt to smear a coach, a program and an entire university. “
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ESPN made reference to interviews with Brayden Smith, a Michigan State student, by MSU police, as well as to a University OIE Title IX investigation. In both reports, Smith stated that he had been contacted by Izzo, Stephens and Garland.
Smith is a close friend of Washington and was with him the night of the incident. Smith is also the son of former Michigan state basketball player Steve Smith. Izzo was an assistant coach during Steve Smith’s time at MSU and Stephens was a teammate. Although Brayden Smith does not play basketball at Michigan State, he has a close relationship with coaches.
In the MSU police report and the Title IX report obtained by The News from the Ingham county prosecutor, Brayden Smith is asked about what he saw the night of the incident. Towards the end of each interview, he was asked if he had spoken to anyone else about the case and said that he had spoken with the three coaches.
MSU police report says Smith said “his perception of the conversation with them was not to get information from him, but rather to make sure he was okay and to remind him to to be responsible”.
Smith added in the report that he “considers these coaches to have a long-standing personal relationship with him and his family. … These men are like a family to him. “
Washington pleaded guilty in early 2018 to assault for crime, according to police records.
At the time, prosecutors declined to comment, saying there was no public record. This likely means that Washington pleaded under a provision of Michigan law that allows offenders aged 17 to 24 to plead guilty without a court finding a conviction, essentially keeping the crime on the record. public and dismissing the matter as long as the conditions of probation are met.
It was the first of two cases involving Washington. According to police records, on January 19 of this year, Washington was charged with sexual assault in an incident on campus. Ingham County prosecutor Carol Siemon refused to file a complaint after examining the case and released a statement this week after an ESPN report named Washington.
“Our team of prosecutors agreed that the case could not be proven in court, as required by law,” said Siemon. “As the county attorney, in the end, I am the public servant who reports directly to the people of Ingham County. I have determined that the case does not meet the burden of proof that we must present to a jury. “
The Michigan Attorney General’s office was asked to review the case and Monday, Attorney General spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said that an assistant attorney general was gathering information and reviewing the case, but no recommendations were forthcoming. has been formulated. She added that it would take several weeks before a decision was made.
Washington lawyer Mary Chartier released a statement defending Washington on Thursday evening.
“Recently, a woman decided to publicly accuse Brock Washington of rape and ask the Michigan Attorney General to lay charges against him,” said Chartier. “This public allegation comes after another prosecutor has examined these allegations and decided not to lay charges. Now that a prosecution has refused to lay charges, the complainant has presented her allegations to the media with the aim of shaming Mr. Washington and putting pressure on the Michigan Attorney General. Although Mr. Washington will not judge the case in the media, he will not remain silent until lies are told about him. He vehemently denies these false claims, and we are ready to combat these claims to the fullest. “
Izzo suspended Washington before Michigan State’s Indiana game on January 23 and stayed suspended for the rest of the season. His status is officially unchanged at this point, according to a spokesman for the team. Washington appeared in 10 games and played 19 minutes.