LANSING – A former Michigan State University football player accused of raping a woman last year during an off-campus incident has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Auston Robertson, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual penetration in Ingham County Circuit Court on Wednesday, telling a judge he did assault a fellow MSU student in her apartment last year.
Robertson could face up to more than 3½ years in prison when he goes before Judge Clinton Canady III for sentencing on Dec. 4. He also would have to register as a sex offender.
He was awaiting trial on two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct when he entered his guilty plea. The prosecutor’s office has agreed to dismiss those two counts as part of the plea agreement. He had faced up to 15 years in prison on those charges.
Robertson was charged with sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman in her Meridian Township apartment in April 2017, when he was still on the football team. The woman testified that Robertson walked her up to her second-floor apartment, then followed her into her bedroom and forced himself on her.
MSU dismissed Robertson from the team, but he later played football at Garden City Community College in Kansas after Canady agreed to modify his bond conditions.
Canady in May ruled that prosecutors could admit evidence of two previous rape accusations against Robertson — and a portion of a third incident — because the allegations were similar to what the Ingham County woman reported. Those alleged incidents occurred in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
In January 2016, Robertson was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from an incident at his high school the previous fall. Court records show he was accused of improperly touching a female classmate.
Those charges were cleared from his record after he successfully completed a diversionary program, according to the records. MSU officials said they were aware of that incident when they recruited Robertson.
Last April, his bond was revoked after he was arrested in connection with an armed robbery in Garden City. The status of that case was not immediately clear Wednesday.