2 players accused of sexual assault

Kristin Marthaler

Kristin Marthaler

Two SDSU men’s basketball players have been suspended and are being investigated for alleged sexual assault against a female student on campus Dec. 15.

Andre Gilbert and Mohamed Berte appeared in a Brookings County courtroom Monday, accompanied by family members. The female student, who filed protection orders last week against the two men, was also in attendance with family. In a ten-minute hearing, the men’s attorney said they have sought their own protection orders against the female. They clamed she had followed them on several occasions and touched them inappropriately.

The protection orders ban both sides from speaking to or coming in contact with one another.

Judge David Gienapp set the next court hearing for March 21, unless attorneys ask for an earlier hearing.

According to Justin Hyde, attorney for the two men, the temporary protection orders will continue pending resolution of the case or until either party requests a hearing.

On Jan. 31, Gilbert, 20, and Berte, 22, were served protection orders by Brookings County Sheriff Martin Stanwick. In court documents filed in connection with the protection order, the female stated the two men sexually assaulted her in her room around 2 a.m. Dec. 15.

The men were then suspended from both practicing and playing with the basketball team. By Wednesday afternoon, their names had been removed from the team roster and from the program for the Thursday night’s game.

Coach Scott Nagy declined comment and referred all questions regarding the incident to Vice President for Administration Mike Reger. “We are going to continue the investigation until we know all there is to know, he said.” Reger said the school may take disciplinary actions depending on the outcome of the investigation.

When asked to comment, President Peggy Miller said she could not comment about the specifics of the case, but added, “I am convinced that student standards in academics and morals remain high. I know that university standards remain high. Our rules are clear, and our penalties severe.”

Berte and Gilbert have been moved to different residence halls during the ongoing investigation by the University Police Department.

“We are an actual police structure, so we will be continuing this investigation until complete,” said Police Chief Tim Heaton.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case. Clyde Calhoon, Brookings County state’s attorney, said, “I have nothing to do with this until charges are actually filed, at that time I will be the attorney. Nothing has been done as of yet.”

Four football players suited up for Thursday’s game against Southwest Minnesota State University in place of the two suspended players. “I guess we will see how tonight (Thursday) goes, and then I’ll probably fill in until the stuff with these two guys gets figured out,” said Chris Wagner, a 6-foot-7-inch tight end who filled one of the spots.

Regardless of the incident, fans remain supportive. “I believe most of the players on the team are good people and hard workers,” said junior Clinton Fuerstenberg, who attended the game Thursday.

“Some players may behave this way, but I think that most keep a cool head,” said sophomore Alex Bethke. He said people are innocent until proven guilty and should get to play until proven guilty.

Berte, from Africa’s Ivory Coast, is a junior. Gilbert, a freshman, is from Brooklyn Park, Minn.

The protection orders were served on Jan. 31, after the team returned from a weeklong road trip.

*Denise Watt contributed to this article.

#1.884747:524466177.jpg:footballplayers_jb.jpg:Pictured above are three of the four football players who filled in for Andre Gilbert and Mohamed Berte, who have been suspended from playing and practicing with the team. Pictured are, Chris Wagner, Michael Loney (on basketball team), Mike Stephen and Glen Fox. :