Michigan State is suing ESPN because of a public records request into sexual assault investigations surrounding the football program, the Lansing State Journal’s Matt Mencarini reported Tuesday.
Here’s the crux of the lawsuit, according to Mencarini — Ingham County prosecutor Carol Siemon’s office has asked the school to withhold the records, but an ESPN reporter asked for them to be released via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Feb. 10. According to the report, Michigan State claims in the lawsuit that it finds itself in an “impossible situation.” The prosecutor’s office hasn’t made a decision on some charges related to the investigation, so it also wants Michigan State to deny the request, per the report.
FOIA says “any person has the right of access to federal agency records or information,” and because Michigan State is a public school, it’s included in that.
ESPN asked for police reports containing allegations of sexual assault since Dec. 10, 2016, and arrest records from Feb. 6 to Feb. 9, according to court documents obtained by the State Journal.
ESPN won a FOIA-related suit filed against Michigan State in 2015 after a judge ruled that the names of suspects could not be redacted from the school’s reports.
Michigan State spokesman Jason Cody told the State Journal that the school filed the lawsuit because it finds “itself in a position where it felt it needed judicial guidance.”
The alleged sexual assault happened in January, and Michigan State suspended the three unnamed players because of it. There has been no timetable announced for a decision from the prosecutor’s office.