Michigan State University trustees order independent probe of Larry Nassar scandal

June 21, 2019
The university says it wants to account for how it handled the sexual assault allegations against Larry Nassar, who was an MSU faculty member until 2016.

Close to 27 years after his first known victim was sexually assaulted, five years after a Title IX investigation cleared him and three years after Michigan State University fired him, the school has authorized an investigation into what happened with convicted sexual abuser and former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar. reports that MSU's Board of Trustees has unanimously authorized an investigation that will be led by the law firm McDermott Will & Emery.

The university consulted with three survivors -- Rachael Denhollander, Sarah Klein and Sterling Riethman -- to pick the firm.

“Today, this board as one has decided to rip off the Band-Aid and authorize an independent investigation...regarding MSU’s handling of Larry Nassar’s sexual misconduct,” says MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam.

The scope of the investigation, the time frame and the budget are still being worked out, the university says.

Board members did say that the results of the investigation would be made public, unlike those from a previous investigation by attorney Patrick Fitzgerald that the university ended up concealing.

Nassar was a faculty member at the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine until he was fired in September 2016. While working for years with USA Gymnastics, which was the national governing body for the sport, he treated many female athletes.

Hundreds of women and girls accused Nassar of sexually abusing them. Nassar has been convicted of numerous charges and has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is conducting its own investigation into the Nassar scandal. In a statement Friday, Nessel criticized MSU’s action.

“Michigan State University lacks the credibility necessary to conduct a legitimate investigation," Nessel said.

"Over the past few years, it has launched several investigations including an ‘independent investigation’ conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald in 2016. Unsurprisingly, it has cleared its employees of culpability each time. There is only one way for MSU to regain the public’s trust and that is to waive its privilege and disclose all information in its possession about Larry Nassar to the Department of Attorney General. In other words, the University should leave the job of investigating to the professionals.”

The attorney general’s office has accused MSU of being uncooperative in turning over evidence and has launched criminal charges against three former employees. Two of those individuals -- former president Lou Anna Simon and former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages -- have been accused of lying to the police. Their cases are still pending.

Asked about the fact that there was already a pending investigation by the attorney general, Mosallam said that probe was investigating criminality, and “our report is trying to figure out what happened.”

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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