MSU Let Nassar See Patients During 16-Month Police Investigation

At least 12 alleged victims say they were sexually assaulted by Nassar during the time frame of the police investigation.
Published: December 21, 2017

A new independent investigation conducted by the Michigan State Universty Police Department and the FBI has found convicted sexual predator Larry Nassar continued to see patients at the school during a sexual assault probe by university police.

At least a dozen alleged victims of Nassar told university police investigators that Nassar sexually assaulted them during the 16-month police probe, reports the Lansing State Journal.

Nassar worked as a physician for USA Gymnastics and MSU and pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct and child pornography charges. He was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison.

Details of the MSUPD and FBI investigation were released by a university spokesman on Tuesday.

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During the joint investigation which began in spring 2017, eight current and former Michigan State employees were interviewed. During an interview with William Strampel, the dean of the school’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, he said he did not “see the need to follow-up” to ensure Nassar was following new guidelines they had discussed.

The new “guidelines” were put forth after a 2014 internal investigation into a graduate’s claim that Nassar sexually assaulted her. The school closed the investigation after three months, indicating the woman “didn’t understand the ‘nuanced difference’ between sexual assault and an appropriate medical procedure.”

After the school closed its investigation, Strampel emailed Nassar saying he was “happy to have you back in full practice” and glad that they had “agreed” that, moving forward, Nassar should have another person in the room whenever treating a patient in sensitive areas, reports ABC News.

Nassar and the school also agreed he would avoid skin-to-skin contact and needed to explain a procedure in full before performing it.

Strampel told police the new guidelines were “health care 101” and he did not think it was necessary to let other employees know that Nassar was instructed to follow them. Other employees say Strampel did not tell anyone that he had made the guidelines mandatory for Nassar.

MSU Employees Unaware of Restrictions Placed on Nassar by University

Dr. Doug Dietzel, Nassar’s direct superior at the time of the 2014 investigation, says they were unaware of the rule that Nassar should have another employee in the room during an examination of private areas.

“How do we enforce those things when we didn’t even know about them?” Dietzel asked police during the spring 2017 investigation.

Dietzel and other employees who were interviewed said no patients told them they felt uncomfortable after being treated by Nassar. Several people also said the only “red flag” they noticed was Nassar’s “incessant” communication with patients through Facebook, including young girls.

When Nassar pleaded guilty in November, he admitted to using his position of power to penetrate private areas of female patients — some of whom were younger than 13 years old — for his own sexual gratification.

The initial 2014 probe by MSU was taken over by university police but Nassar continued to see patients. MSU spokesman Jason Cody says the school is allowed to suspend an employee under criminal investigation but did not suspend Nassar.

Just this month, a lawyer for MSU indicated the school was unaware of any allegations against Nassar until Rachael Denhollander publicly came forward in September 2016.

However, when asked by the Huffington Post about the 16-month investigation, Cody provided a detailed timeline which contradicted the lawyer’s claim:

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.

At a Board of Regents meeting on December 15, MSU president Lou Anna Simon said the school will create a $10 million fund for counseling and mental health services for Nassar victims. The meeting was attended by several of Nassar’s victims and some attendees called for Simon’s resignation.

Strampel stepped down last week citing medical reasons.

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