The woman who accused three Michigan State basketball players of raping her four years ago has come forward, revealing her identity and issuing a statement of support to those who have undergone similar assaults.
Bailey Kowalski, 22, revealed her identity to The New York Times on Wednesday, and Thursday spoke to a room full of reporters.
"I'm about to graduate in May, and for most of my college career, this has been a heavy burden on me and my family,” Kowalski said, according to Yahoo Sports. “I am no longer afraid. I'm empowered to do this," she said Thursday. "I know that there are others who exist and they too are afraid. I want to be an example for them. The silent survivors matter and are worth fighting for."
In a Title IX lawsuit against MSU, Kowalski alleged that that when she was a freshman sports journalism major, she met members of the MSU basketball team at a bar on April 11, 2015. She was invited to a party at one of the player’s apartments and eventually began feeling disoriented, although she’d had little to drink. She claims she was thrown onto a bed at the apartment and raped by three players who have remained anonymous.
Kowalski’s suit against alleges that she reported the incident to the school’s counselors but was persuaded by them not to report the incident to police.
"Instead, I was intimidated and told I was swimming with some pretty big fish," she said, reading most of her statement through tears. "I'll never forget that phrase and the immediate feeling of despair and isolation."
Kowalski said her recovery from the incident has involved a lot suffering over the course of years. "I've had to learn how to essentially go from a 'Bleed Green' Spartan fan to, 'Why don't you care about the fact we're making it to the Final Four this year?'" she said.
A number of women who were responsible for reporting the sexual abuse crimes of former Michigan State physician Larry Nassar were present during Kowalski's statement.
To this day, Kowalski has not filed a police report or named the players she accused of raping her, but her lawyer said that’s still a possibility. Michigan State has denied any responsibility for Kowalski’s assault and has requested that her suit be dismissed.
ESPN reports that Michigan State’s investigation into Kowalski’s report was one of 35 sexual violence and related misconduct complaints filed against MSU athletes since fall 2012.