Prosecutors Lose Appeal to Reinstate Charges Against Ex-Michigan State President in Nassar-Related Case
An appellate judge said statements made by Lou Anna Simon during interviews about Larry Nassar were “immaterial to the prosecution’s sham investigation.”
State prosecutors lost their bid to reinstate criminal charges against former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon, who was accused of lying to investigators in 2018 about what she knew about sexual assault complaints made against Larry Nassar.
On Tuesday, a Michigan Court of Appeals panel voted 3-0 to dismiss the case against Simon, upholding a May 2020 decision by the Eaton County District Court and indicating there was insufficient evidence to send her to trial, reports The State News.
In Nov. 2018, Simon was charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts for allegedly lying during a May 1 interview with state police. She was accused of making two false and misleading statements, telling officials that she was unaware of the nature of the initial sexual misconduct complaint against Larry Nassar that launched a 2014 Title IX investigation, and that she only knew that a sports medicine doctor, not Nassar specifically, was under investigation.
Nassar, who was an MSU sports physician and doctor for USA Gymnastics, was sentenced in 2017 to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. He was also sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in Michigan state prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Elizabeth Gleicher, the court’s next chief judge, criticized prosecutors for pursuing the case, arguing Simon’s statements were “immaterial to the prosecution’s sham investigation” and “there can be no debate” that Michigan State “grossly mishandled” complaints against Nassar well before Simon became president.
“The historical background supports that the goal was to exact retribution for MSU’s failure to stop Nassar rather than to pursue justice for criminal wrongdoing,” she wrote in a 14-page opinion. “Dr. Simon was one of the scapegoats selected to justify that effort.”
Gleicher also said the prosecution was “designed to punish and humiliate Dr. Simon for the sins of MSU, not to provide justice for Nassar’s survivors or to vindicate the legitimate purposes of the law penalizing those who lie to the police.”
The attorney general’s office said it is considering if it should bring the case to the state Supreme Court, according to The Associated Press.
“The department followed the evidence where it led,” said spokeswoman Lynsey Mukomel. “Any claim otherwise is unfounded.”
Simon resigned from her position in Jan. 2018, just hours after Nassar’s second sentencing. In May 2018, MSU reached a settlement of $500 million with 332 women and girls who allege they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.
In Sept. 2019, the U.S. Education Department also ordered the school to make sweeping changes to its Title IX procedures and pay a $4.5 million penalty — the largest Clery Act fine ever imposed by the department.