On April 17 at 12:33 p.m., Rodney Higgins Jr., kinesiology freshman and former cornerback for the Mustangs, was arrested and charged with sexual assault in Killingsworth Hall.
“The investigation is going on, and we are cooperating with wherever we need to be, ” Interim Director of Athletics Kyle Williams said.
According to Williams, he was aware that Higgins had been suspended a month prior to the assault; however, Williams said he would not comment on the reason behind the suspension.
According to the affidavit submitted by the MSU police department:
At approximately 10:40 p.m. on Sunday, April 16, a female student returning to her dorm room in Killingsworth Hall found a male standing in her room. A physical altercation followed until the perpetrator grabbed the victim, held her up to the bed and began sexually assaulting her.
Before the assault began, the victim was able to send an SOS message to two of her female friends, who drove back to campus and ran up to the victim’s room, finding the perpetrator on top of the victim. The two friends said he grabbed his shirt and shorts before he ran out of victim’s room.
The victim confirmed that it was an MSU football player, as she looked through the football team’s roster and found the suspect. The suspect was identified by both the victim and a witness, through the Mustangs football team website.
“We don’t know much other than it happened in our building,” Sterling Ellison, Killingsworth Hall resident assistant, said. “We don’t know any specifics and we can’t find out or ask about it. Hall directors and RAs who know can’t say anything due to Title IX.”
The sexual assault comes just days after MSU’s counseling center held a two-day long sexual assault awareness program involving guest speaker Suzette Warden Cole who spoke at length about consent during sex.
It is also the second reported sexual assault on campus this academic year. Brian Cooper, who was an athletic training freshman at the time of the incident, was suspected of sexually assaulting a female resident in the Legacy Hall dorm on Oct. 25, 2016; however, he was charged with burglary of a habitation.
“We had a situation where a male student entered a female student’s room, with we do believe the intent to sexually assault; however, we charged him with burglary, not sexual assault,” Police Chief Patrick Coggins said. “From the evidence that we obtained from the investigation, it was a more solid charge and a better charge as burglary. This is because if we were to charge him with an attempted offense, it would be a lower-level charge, so we can file a higher-level charge with burglary than as attempted sexual assault.”
Higgins was listed as a cornerback on the Mustangs’ online roster — but between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on April 17, he was removed from the site.
He was released on a $20,000 bail on Tuesday evening.