Minnesota Police Will Not Reopen Football Team Gang Rape Investigation
A University of Minnesota probe interviewed far more witnesses than the police did, and concluded some of the accused football players tried to conceal evidence.
Police in Minneapolis will not reopen an investigation into an alleged gang rape involving University of Minnesota football players despite a school inquiry showing that some of the accused told different stories to police and to the school about what happened.
The new details were contained in a leaked 80-page report from the school’s inquiry into the alleged September 2 assault. The school’s investigation resulted in 10 players from the football team being suspended pending their appeals. It concluded that the accused men attempted to withhold information from the university and that some changed their stories from what they told police during a criminal investigation.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday it is reviewing the university’s report, but “will have no further comment at this time.”
However, Minneapolis police told BuzzFeed News the information from the school’s investigation, which was published Friday by local TV station KSTP, does not change the status of the case.
“The Minneapolis Police department is not reviewing the University of Minnesota’s report,” Sgt. Catherine Michal, a department spokeswoman, told BuzzFeed News. “The University’s investigation was not a criminal investigation. The students that were interviewed by the University were not read the Miranda Warning; therefore, the department would not be able to use the information obtained. It should be noted that our investigators believe they were able to review all relevant evidence pertaining to the case.”
A 22-year-old female student reported to police that she was sexually assaulted by multiple Gophers football players and a high school recruit at an apartment. She reported it to the university later that month. Police investigated, gathering DNA evidence and interviewing six players and the alleged victim, according to a case report. They referred the case to Freeman, who declined to prosecute, citing insufficient evidence from the police investigation. All of the men implicated have insisted the encounter was consensual.
The confidential report from an investigation by the University of Minnesota’s Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action (EOAA) office showed that school investigators interviewed the alleged victim, 12 players, and 16 other witnesses, in addition to reviewing the police case report and materials from cell phones.
The university found the accused players were less credible because, in speaking to school investigators, some changed their stories from what they told police. The report also stated that some of the accused, whose names were redacted, “attempted to conceal information” about the men’s conduct that night.
“For example, evidence indicates that many accused students deleted relevant messages and videos from their phones upon learning that [the alleged victim] made a report to the police and/or EOAA,” the report stated. It added that it “appears likely that accused students engaged in a collective effort to conceal the identities of men who were present” in the apartment where the incident took place.
The school’s investigator concluded that nine students were responsible for sexual assault or harassment, and an additional student was responsible for “willfully providing” university officials with “false, misleading and incomplete information.”
Ten players were suspended from the Gophers football team last week pending January appeal hearings. Five players are facing expulsion as a result of the university’s investigation, four are recommended for suspension, and one is up for probation, their attorney told local media. The team announced a boycott late on Thursday, vowing to skip an upcoming bowl game until the players were reinstated, but reversed course on Saturday.
Gophers football players have repeatedly cited concerns with how the university handled the case as the reason for the boycott. However, the players have not stated what in the investigation was unfair. Several players who’ve spoken at press conferences did not respond to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.
The university investigation report also stated that one accused player admitted to showing a 90-second sexually explicit video of the encounter to other men without the woman’s permission. However, the report stated that he may have gone further, sending it electronically, which could violate Minnesota’s new revenge porn law.
Minnesota’s revenge porn statute took effect in August and allows prosecutors to bring criminal charges or for a victim to sue over non-consensual distribution of someone’s sexual images.
The players’ attorney, Lee A. Hutton, III, declined to say if anything in the EOAA report was inaccurate, except to say briefly in an email to BuzzFeed News, “There is no evidence that the video was shared.”