Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Prior allegations to be considered in ex-MSU football player's criminal trial

May 3, 2018
<p>Former MSU football player Auston Roberston looks to his attorney on June 22, 2017, at the 55th District Court in Mason, Michigan. At the hearing Judge Thomas P. Boyd ordered an additional count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct be charged against Robertson for his alleged role in a sexual assault in April.</p>

Former MSU football player Auston Roberston looks to his attorney on June 22, 2017, at the 55th District Court in Mason, Michigan. At the hearing Judge Thomas P. Boyd ordered an additional count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct be charged against Robertson for his alleged role in a sexual assault in April.

Photo by Jon Famurewa | The State News

During a motion hearing on May 2, an Ingham County judge approved the admittance of past unlawful incidents as evidence in the trial of Auston Robertson.

The prosecution sought to have five incidents admitted as evidence in the ex-MSU football player's criminal trial. Two of the five incidents were admitted for consideration. Additionally,  a portion of a third incident was admitted. 

The decision to admit these took place Wednesday morning at Veterans Memorial Courthouse in Lansing. Robertson made an appearance in court via video conference from a Finney County, Kansas courtroom.

Robertson faces two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly raping a woman in April 2017. The woman told police that Robertson told her she couldn’t report him because they were best friends.

In one of the two incidents admitted as evidence, Robertson tackled a woman and pulled down her pants. In the other incident, he grabbed a woman by her ankles, pulled her into a bathroom, pulled her pants down and made her sit on his lap. Months later, he engaged her in non-consensual sex and told her not to tell anyone. 

In the incident that was partially admitted as evidence, the victim reportedly received a text from Robertson. In it, he berated her for reporting that he had groped her. 

Judge Canady allowed these incidents to be used with consideration to 404 (b) of Michigan rules of evidence because they have not been included for character degradation to imply prior acts prove conduct. Similarities of forcefulness and telling victims not to report allowed the incidents to be considered.

In the first non-admitted incident, Robertson told a woman that he was going to rape her. He was a juvenile at the time. In the second non-admitted incident, Robertson grabbed a woman, asked her for sex and then she went home. These were not considered by the judge as evidence.

David Rosenberg, Robertson's attorney, raised questions about DNA samples found with Robertson that were collected as evidence for the April 2017 incident's forensic rape kit. Rosenberg said a more in-depth look was needed into the sexual encounters of the woman featured in this specific case. 

Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Nicole Matusko stated that Robertson’s DNA was collected in the rape kit. Canady denied Rosenberg's motion to look into the alleged victim's sexual history.

"Once the DNA of Mr. Robertson is found, then what's the relevance of whatever previous consensual sex she had, concerning whether or not this act is consensual," Canady said. "The allegation here is that the encounter with Mr. Robertson was not consensual, so I mean we have his DNA there so we know a sexual act took place so it seems that the central issue is was it consensual or not."

Robertson, 20, was originally scheduled for trial on May 14, but he was recently arrested and jailed in Kansas. There, he is accused of aggravated robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, interfering with law and marijuana distribution. Judge Canady said Robertson's trial date concerning the April 2017 alleged rape will be pushed back.

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