Michigan State allowed a culture in which Larry Nassar used his position as a doctor treating athletes to molest girls and young women for decades.
He might not have been the only one to take advantage of Michigan State’s athletic culture, and allegations are now reaching the NBA.
The Clippers placed minor-league assistant coach Travis Walton on administrative leave after an ESPN report detailed accusations of him hitting one woman and raping another. Those alleged incidents occurred in 2010 while Walton was an assistant coach at Michigan State, following his time playing for the Spartans.
The report also detailed rape allegations against Adreian Payne and Keith Appling while they played at Michigan State. The Magic waived Payne, on a two-way contract, shortly after the report. Appling, who previously played for Orlando, was already out of the league after being jailed for gun offenses.
A FEW MONTHS later, on Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, a different MSU student — Carolyn Schaner — and a friend walked into the campus police department and told investigators about an incident that had occurred the night before.
Schaner had moved into Wonders Hall that weekend and attended an orientation meeting. Though she did not know who they were, she saw top basketball recruits Adreian Payne and Keith Appling during the orientation, but she did not speak to them. Later that evening, Schaner ran into them in the dorm’s lobby and talked with them before she accepted an invitation to go back to their room, where the three started playing miniature basketball. The two men began taking their clothes off with each missed basket, but Schaner told police she refused to take off any more than her T-shirt, under which she was wearing a sports bra. She told police the two men ended up cornering her and turning off the lights. She told police she felt trapped and fearful of refusing their advances.
Appling, she told police, removed her underwear, and then the two men pulled her to the ground and started penetrating her vaginally, anally and orally. She told police that she said to the men, “I don’t want it,” “stop” and “don’t.”
In a video interview obtained by Outside the Lines, Payne told detectives that Schaner had indicated she wanted to leave.
According to a police report, Payne told officers that he could “understand how she would feel that she was not free to leave.” Payne was concerned about her reaction to the circumstances and had even asked Appling to apologize to her, the report stated. Payne told officers that he had apologized to Schaner because “it seemed she felt that they ‘disrespected’ her.” ESPN does not typically identify people who report acts of sexual violence, but Schaner sought to publicly reveal her identity.
Appling did not talk to detectives at the time, but he granted a phone interview with Outside the Lines late last year while he was in jail near Detroit serving time for a weapons charge.
“It was consensual,” he says, adding that he never heard Schaner say “no” or “stop.” “Had that been the case, I would have completely granted her wishes. We’re not even those type of guys. We wouldn’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable around us.”
Schaner says campus police investigators told her that, because of Payne’s police interview, they had a solid case to pursue. Once the case was forwarded from police to Ingham County prosecutors, Schaner was interviewed by an assistant prosecutor, Debra Rousseau Martinez. Schaner says Martinez told her she did not seem strong enough to stand up to questioning that would come as a result of making allegations against MSU basketball players.
No charges were filed in the case. The assistant prosecutor, Martinez, now works for Michigan State’s Title IX office. She declined to comment on Schaner’s case.
Why is Orlando waiving him now? It was reported in 2010 two Michigan State basketball players were accused of sexual assault. In 2014, a federal investigation examined the incident. It was known enough in Michigan that Payne and Appling were the accused. Did the Magic not do enough diligence before signing Payne? Do they care about having accused rapists on their team, or do they care only about having heavily discussed accused rapists on their team? Should the distinction matter?
Payne wasn’t charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime. Should this accusation still prevent him from playing in the NBA? What jobs should he be allowed to hold?
Rape is obviously bad, and that notion is being treated as a given more than ever before – a positive development. But waiving Payne is a simple solution to a complex issue.