Michigan State’s Nassar review mostly clears staff
Michigan State University mostly found no violations of campus policy in a review of roughly 20 former or current staff members who were said to have received complaints about Larry Nassar, the doctor convicted of molesting female athletes, according to a report Tuesday.
The report is part of a 2019 agreement with the U.S. Education Department, which included a $4.5 million fine and MSU’s pledge to greatly change how it responds to sexual harassment and assault.
The school was required to determine if employees properly handled complaints about Nassar, based on policies in place at the time of the allegation. MSU found that the evidence mostly fell in favor of staff.
There’s no dispute that Nassar assaulted females with his hands, usually gymnasts, while treating them for various injuries. He’s been sentenced to decades in prison for assault and other crimes.
Nassar, who also worked for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, was charged in 2016, but victims have insisted there were opportunities to stop him years earlier.
MSU reviewed the actions of the athletic department medical staff, coaches and some faculty members. Some couldn’t recall getting complaints about Nassar, while others said they weren’t given enough details that would have alarmed them. Victims sometimes acknowledged that, according to the report.
“What we were trying to do was respond to the query that came from (the government), which was to take a look at what was done in the context of our policies then and was it done appropriately,” MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. told the Lansing State Journal. “It’s hard for me to go back and say whether a mistake was made or not.”
The report noted that campus police prepared a case against Nassar in 2015 but the local prosecutor’s office declined to file charges, saying the doctor appeared to be performing a “very innovative” procedure involving a ligament.
The report said psychology professor Gary Stollak failed in 2004 to report an allegation of abuse by a girl who had informed him during counseling outside his campus job. Stollak has repeatedly said he can’t remember because of the effects of a stroke. He retired in 2010 and gave up his license.
Nassar’s former boss, William Strampel, was convicted of willful neglect of duty for failing to adequately supervise him during and after a 2014 investigation. He quit in 2018.
Former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was recently sentenced to 90 days in jail for lying to police, though she claims she can’t remember two teens telling her in 1997 that Nassar had abused them.
Klages was not required to report the allegation under policies in place at that time, the report said.
The youth gymnastics program was also outside her employment, but it “does not mean that MSU would not have responded” if told about the allegations, the report said.