Michigan AG seeks university emails, texts in Nassar review
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State Attorney General Bill Schuette is asking Michigan State University for emails and text messages related to Larry Nassar, an initial salvo in his investigation into how the college handled complaints against the longtime campus sports doctor who was sentenced to decades in prison last week for sexually assaulting female athletes.
In a letter released Monday, Schuette and his special independent counsel, William Forsyth, requested the communications of 20 current and former school officials, including the entire eight-member governing board of trustees and President Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis — who both quit last week after Nassar’s sentencing.
Also being sought by Feb. 9 are records related to three people who have been under heightened scrutiny since Nassar was fired in September 2016: longtime gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, who retired last February after being suspended for defending Nassar in a team meeting; sports medicine doctor Brooke Lemmen, who resigned in January 2017 amid allegations that she did not tell the university in 2015 that Nassar was being investigated by USA Gymnastics after the school had cleared him in a 2014 Title IX probe; and William Strampel, the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine who began a leave of absence for medical reasons in December.
In the letter dated Saturday, investigators asked for Strampel’s work computer, his work cellphone and his work calendars “immediately.” They also requested “all records” of any university investigation into the Nassar matter, including a review conducted by former Chicago federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. He was hired by the school and has said no one there knew that Nassar committed crimes.
A message seeking comment was left with a university spokesman on Monday.
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison last week at the end of an extraordinary seven-day hearing at which more than 150 women and girls said he had molested them under the guise of medical treatment. Victims blamed Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing more earlier to stop him.
One woman, Larissa Boyce, said she and a fellow teenage teammate complained about Nassar to Klages in 1997, when they trained with the Spartan youth gymnastics team.
“Instead of notifying authorities or even my parents, we were interrogated,” Boyce said in her statement to the court. “We were led to believe we were misunderstanding a medical technique. ... She humiliated and silenced me.”
Nassar’s accusers have said he would use his ungloved hands to penetrate them digitally and engage in other inappropriate touching when they were seeking treatment for back, hip, leg, foot and other injuries.
An attorney who represents Klages and Strampel declined to comment Monday, citing a lawsuit that has been filed against them.
Also Monday, trustee Brian Mosallam took to Twitter to demand the immediate resignation of Michigan State Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Bob Noto. He also called for an independent review of the legal department’s handling of the Nassar matter.
Noto could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
A Title IX probe conducted by the university cleared Nassar of sexual assault allegations in 2014. He was advised by the school to avoid being alone with patients while treating their “sensitive areas,” but the school did not enforce its request. In March, Strampel told a campus detective and an FBI agent that he did not follow up because having a chaperone in the room for a sensitive exam is “health care 101.”
At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the investigation ended, according to a university police report that was provided to the FBI for review by the U.S. attorney.
Nassar, who also has been sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges, will appear in a Michigan court this week for another prison sentence. In that case, he pleaded guilty to assaulting three girls at Twistars, a Lansing-area gymnastics club.