Former MSU football employee brings lawsuit

EAST LANSING (AP) — Former Michigan State football employee Curtis Blackwell has filed a lawsuit claiming his employment agreement was violated when he was disciplined while the school addressed sexual assault allegations against three players in 2017.
Coach Mark Dantonio is named as a defendant in the suit, which was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Michigan. 

Lou Anna Simon and Mark Hollis, the school’s president and athletic director when Blackwell was there, are also defendants in the suit, along with two university police detectives. 

The school had no immediate comment on the suit.

Three Michigan State football players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2017. They later pleaded guilty to reduced charges. Blackwell was suspended with pay, and the school ultimately decided not to renew his contract.

The lawsuit alleges that Blackwell was suspended in violation of his employment agreement, and that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by police.

After the alleged sexual assault in January 2017, a player’s father contacted Blackwell about a wild party and wanted him to ask if anyone was in trouble, according to the suit. 

The suit says Blackwell asked several players, including one who said he’d already spoken with Dantonio, “who had directed him to contact the Title IX Office to report a potential sexual assault incident.”

The suit says Blackwell, who was the team’s director of college advancement and performance, did not “conduct an investigation” into what had happened at the party.

“He was simply ‘mentoring the student athletes’ by encouraging them to stay away from wild parties,” the suit said.

The suit alleges that the defendants did not honor Blackwell’s employment agreement, which the suit says required that he be allowed to speak with the athletic director before any discipline was imposed.

The suit also claims police arrested Blackwell without probable cause.

“There was no evidence that Plaintiff had interfered with a police investigation as the MSU Police Defendants had falsely alleged,” the suit said.