Michigan State University
Former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon has been ordered to stand trial on charges of lying to police.

Former MSU president will stand trial on charges of lying to police

Oct. 29, 2019
A judge found probable cause that Lou Anna Simon concealed information from police regarding sexual assault allegations against Larry Nassar.

Former Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon has been ordered to stand trial on four charges in connection with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

The Lansing State Journal reports that Eaton County District Court Judge Julie Reincke found that there was probable cause to find that Simon concealed information from state police about what she knew regarding Amanda Thomashow's sexual assault allegations against Nassar. 

"It is not credible to believe that Simon would have heard even the outline of Thomashow's story and forgotten it," Reincke wrote in her opinion and order. "Testimony from other witnesses who worked closely with her described her as a president who was very responsible and dedicated about her work at MSU." 

It would not fit for a president who "paid attention to detail" and was "very engaged" in the university to forget about those allegations, Reincke wrote. 

Simon is accused of lying about her knowledge of Nassar’s conduct while he was a sports medicine doctor at MSU.

Reincke wrote the charges arose from the "limited answers Dr. Simon gave to questions asked of her by the Michigan State Police detectives about what she knew of that first complaint and the problems created by Dr. Nassar's behavior."

Lee Silver, one of Simon's defense attorneys, said he was disappointed by Reincke's ruling "in light of the stark lack of evidence to support the charges against Lou Anna Simon."

Simon resigned as president on Jan. 24, 2018, the same day that Nassar, who worked in MSU's sports medicine clinic, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes. Nassar also is serving a 60-year sentence on child pornography charges.

Hundreds of young women came forward and accused Nassar of using his position at MSU, as a USA Gymnastics team doctor and at Twistar's gymnastics gym to abuse young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment. 

Simon is the third former MSU employee with ties to Nassar who has been ordered to face trial in the wake of the scandal. 

Former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages also faces charges of lying to police. The case against her is set to go to trial in February.

William Strampel, who was one of Nassar's bosses as dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, was found guilty in June of misconduct in office for his own treatment of women and willful neglect of duty related to supervising Nassar. He has been sentenced to a year in jail.

Simon is charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of lying to police. She could face up to four years in prison if convicted on the felony charges.

She has maintained she didn’t learn about the nature of a complaint against Nassar until 2016, but investigators say she learned about it in 2014.

Thomashow, who was then a recent MSU graduate, told the university that during an appointment, Nassar cupped her buttocks, sent a female resident out of the examination room then massaged her breast and vaginal area, only stopping when she physically removed his hands.

A university investigation of Thomashow's complaint concluded that Nassar did not violate policy. An MSU police detective investigated and sent the case to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office, which declined to charge Nassar.

The result of the university's investigation has become a key focus of those who believe MSU officials could have acted against Nassar before the Indianapolis Star report, sparing other victims. 

Reincke said in her ruling that there could be "no reasonable doubt" the two detectives were officers conducting a criminal investigation or that they were investigating first degree criminal sexual conduct and misconduct in office. 

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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