Michigan State University reportedly allowed former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar to continue working with patients in 2014 and 2015 while he was under criminal investigation for sexual assault.
At least a dozen women told university police investigators Nassar sexually assaulted them during the 16-month period when school police were probing an assault allegation against him, the Lansing State Journal reported Tuesday.
Nassar has since pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct and child pornography charges. More than 125 women, including Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney, say he sexually abused them when they were children.
MSU in 2014 closed a three-month investigation into a recent graduate’s claim that Nassar assaulted her, saying the woman “didn’t understand the ‘nuanced difference’ between sexual assault and an appropriate medical procedure,” according to a report in the Lansing State Journal earlier this year.
The school’s probe, under the Title IX gender-equity law, triggered a criminal investigation by university police. But Nassar was allowed to continue seeing patients while the probe was conducted, according to police records.
“It should be noted that at least twelve assaults have been reported that occurred after 7/30/2014,” says a 19-page police report obtained by the newspaper. “Many of the sexual assaults occurred in examination rooms at MSU Sports Medicine and involved the lack of a chaperone during sensitive procedures and un-gloved skin-to-skin contact.”
Their response has been heartbreaking because it has reminded me time and time again that our voices do not matter. Rachel Denhollander, the first victim to publicly come forward, on MSU's response to the Nassar allegations
MSU spokesman Jason Cody told the Lansing State Journal the university can suspend an employee under criminal investigation, but that it didn’t suspend Nassar.
In response to HuffPost’s request for comment, Cody provided a detailed timeline of the 16-month investigation of Nassar:
On May 15, 2014, the MSU Police Department received its first report about Larry Nassar. Police immediately began a criminal investigation, and the MSU administration also immediately began a Title IX investigation.
It is important to remember, the criminal investigations conducted by MSU Police are done independently and without influence from the MSU administration. While a criminal investigation may prompt a review of an employee’s status, those processes are separate from one another.
In this case, as soon as the MSU administration was aware of the allegation, we took immediate action and began a Title IX investigation. That investigation, in July 2014 and based upon the information known at that time, concluded there was no finding of a policy violation by Nassar. Thus, Nassar returned to work.
On the criminal investigation, it is important to note that from the early stages, MSU Police detectives made multiple contacts with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office. Each time, prosecutors indicated this was not a chargeable case. Despite that, a thorough investigation was completed and the report was submitted to that office for review and consideration of charges. This is consistent with the MSUPD practice of forwarding all investigations involving sexual assault to the prosecutor for review. The final decision by the prosecutor’s office was not to authorize criminal charges.
The university this month said it was unaware of any allegations against Nassar until Rachael Denhollander publicly came forward in September 2016. The new report contradicts that claim, revealing the school’s 2014 Title IX investigation and subsequent criminal probe.
“Their response has been heartbreaking because it has reminded me time and time again that our voices do not matter,” Denhollander recently said of the university’s reaction to the accusations against Nassar.
University President Lou Anna K. Simon said on Dec. 15 that MSU will create a $10 million fund for “counseling and mental health services as part of our commitment to support Nassar’s victims.”
“Nassar preyed on his victims’ dreams and ambitions, changing their lives in terrible ways,” Simon said in the announcement. “While much has been achieved, I understand that strengthening a policy or introducing a new procedure today doesn’t change what happened to these women in the past or the pain they feel.”
Nassar’s former boss, William Strampel, dean of the school’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, stepped down last week, citing medical reasons.
Nassar last month pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual misconduct in the first degree and faces sentencing in January. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison for possessing child pornography in a separate case.
This article has been updated with Cody’s statement to HuffPost.