U football players charged in rape case

by Anthony Maggio

Two University football players were charged Wednesday with first- and third-degree sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman.

Mackenzy Toussaint, 20, and Steven Watson, 19, are being held in the Hennepin County Jail for $50,000 bail after an initial hearing early this week.

The two were still in custody as of 8 p.m. Thursday.

University officials responded Thursday to the charges, which come in the wake of NCAA sanctions against the men’s basketball team last year and alleged favoritism toward student athletes accused of sexual misconduct.

“We’re very concerned,” men’s athletics director Tom Moe said. “The allegations are serious in nature and very troublesome. We indicated right from the beginning that we’ll do everything we can to cooperate in this process with authorities.”

University Vice President and chief of staff Tonya Moten Brown expressed similiar feelings regarding repeated incidents in athletics.

“This University has been through a lot of painful incidents in the last two years,” Moten Brown said. “We have tried very hard to set high expectations for our student athletes.”

Moten Brown would not comment on the existence of an investigation but said University policy requires an immediate investigation of any arrested student athlete.

“We always follow policy,” Moten Brown added.

Moten Brown expressed concern for the alleged victim, players and families involved and said whether true or not, the allegations would have grave consequences for the players’ futures.

According to the criminal complaint:

The alleged victim was visiting a friend at Roy Wilkins Hall. The friend left and the woman took a nap in his bed.

Two hours later, she entered the living room where Watson, Toussaint and others were watching a video.

Soon after, she was left alone with the suspects as well as a third male and his young child.

While Watson worked on a computer, the woman slapped his hands away from the keyboard.

Eventually, Toussaint said if she did not stop bothering Watson, Watson and he would take off her dress. The woman then told them she was just playing.

When the woman slapped Watson’s hands again, he grabbed her wrist, and Toussaint
bear-hugged her.

The two then removed her underwear, and Watson asked the woman if she wanted to have sex. She declined.

Watson then shut the door, and Toussaint requested a back massage. The woman complied. While the woman massaged Toussaint, Watson ran his hand up her skirt, and she told him to stop. Toussaint then told her to give Watson what he wanted.

The men cornered her and pinned her on the bed. They removed her clothing and forced her to perform oral sex on Toussaint.

Watson left the room, and the small child entered and screamed. The woman asked Toussaint for her dress back, but Toussiant agreed to only if she finished giving him oral sex. He took her into the closet then gave her the dress back when she finished.

Toussaint then left the room, but the woman was too scared to leave. Watson re-entered the room and forced her to engage in sexual intercourse.

She was able to escape from Watson but did not leave the room. After two other men entered the room, Toussaint escorted the woman out of the apartment.

Watson was arrested in December on similiar sexual assault charges, but the case was later dropped due to lack of evidence.

The first incident allegedly occured in the University-owned half of University Village.

When the arrest occurred, Watson was suspended from the team. He was then reinstated after the prosecutor’s decision and before the team’s trip to the Micronpc.com Bowl in Miami.

Despite these policy violations, neither Moe nor Moten Brown said they see a trend.

“I think that this is a matter of individual conduct,” Moten Brown said. “I think you can try and set the highest expectations, but people will sometimes let you down. I do not think this is a reflection on the entire athletic department, the entire football team or the University of Minnesota.”

In an attempt to prevent sexual misconduct by athletes, the athletics department requires all athletes to go through a seminar on sexual violence in order to heighten awareness of an ongoing problem.

Watson and Toussaint are
scheduled to appear in court for a probable cause hearing Sept. 12.