EAST LANSING (WWJ) – The Michigan State University Board is changing course and now asking for an investigation into the handling of complaints against sports doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted gymnasts and other athletes.
The same day, the board issued a vote of support for President Lou Anna Simon.
Simon and the Board of Trustees had earlier the same day sent their request to Attorney General Bill Schuette Friday. The university did hire an investigator to look into the case, but that investigation ended with no report on file.
“Although we have confidence in the integrity of the various reviews already conducted by law enforcement, subject matter experts, and outside counsel to the university, we are making this request because we believe your review may be needed to answer the public’s questions concerning MSU’s handling of the Nassar situation,” the board wrote in a letter. “Only a review by your office can resolve the questions in a way that the victims, their families, and the public will deem satisfactory and that will help all those affected by Nassar’s horrible crimes to heal.”
The letter goes on to say the Board has heard from legislators and other stakeholders about the Nassar matter and there is a general sentiment that MSU has avoided being transparent, or worse may be involved in a coverup. They say this is not true.
Schuette responded to the request, saying he would provide complete review. However, he said “this week and the coming weeks are time for the survivors of Larry Nassar to have their day in court, and I refuse to upstage their time for healing.”
Calls have been growing for Simon to resign over allegations that the school mishandled complaints about Nassar, who sexually assaulted young gymnasts.
The MSU Board of Trustees is meeting Friday morning, as victims who were molested by Nassar after seeking his help for injuries continue speaking at his sentencing. A university spokesperson said the meeting is a working session to discuss Nassar litigation. The board is expected to ask Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate school’s handling of the case.
Victims have criticized the school, saying a lack of leadership and action against Nassar allowed the abuse to continue for years. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor.
“Guess what? You’re a coward, too,” current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.
All four of the state’s legislative leaders have also called for Simon to resign or be fired by the board of trustees.
“It is clear that a lack of leadership amongst Michigan State University’s highest ranks allowed victims to suffer in silence for far too long,” said state House Democratic Leader Sam Singh, who is from East Lansing, where the school is located.
Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls at Michigan State University and his home. He also was a team doctor at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.
Nassar was fired from Michigan State University in September 2016. A former federal prosecutor hired by MSU said there’s no evidence that school officials knew Nassar was sexually abusing young female athletes.
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