Larry Nassar was Michigan State’s best kept secret, it’s time we start talking
Why President Simon’s apology isn’t enough
Lawyers for Michigan State University believe the university is not legally liable for Nassar's sexual assaults on patients, and have asked for the lawsuit listing MSU as a co-defendant in the Nassar lawsuits be dismissed.
Larry Nassar was one of the university's best kept secrets, and they should be held responsible for neglecting to protect their students.
Last month, Lou Anna K. Simon sent the entire MSU student body a letter in regards to Larry Nassar. It was her so-called "apology" to the community.
"I am truly sorry for the abuse you suffered, the pain it caused and the pain it continues to cause today," Simon said. "I'm sorry a physician who called himself a Spartan so utterly betrayed your trust and everything this university stands for."
Sexual assault as been disregarded at MSU for far too long, and it's not enough for Lou Anna Simon to simply say "I'm sorry," after so many women came forward about their abuse by Nassar only to be ignored.
Larry Nassar was a predator for over 20 years. He was able to abuse his position as a doctor on MSU's campus, as well as at USA Gymnastics, to abuse at least 100 female athletes.
Nassar began working at USA Gymnastics as an athletic trainer in 1986, where he allegedly assaulted an Olympic gymnast in 1994. By 1996, Nassar had moved to MSU for a primary care sports medicine fellowship.
In 1999, a student athlete at MSU came forward to report Nassar had "touched her vaginal area although she was seeking treatment for an injured hamstring." A lawsuit filed claims the University didn't do anything to protect the student athlete, and instead largely ignored the complaint. Nassar was allowed to continue working at Michigan State for 17 years, despite continued reports of abuse.
Several reports of abuse at MSU lead to a Title IX investigation in 2014. The investigation, which relied heavily on three medical experts who had close personal ties with Nassar, was eventually closed and Nassar was found innocent.
During Nassar's final two years at Michigan State, he was under investigation by five different institutions on allegations of sexual misconduct, but still allowed to work in closed quarters with women on campus.
In November of 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting nine teenage women, including eight former patients. He has been charged with three accounts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, child pornography, and several civl lawsuits aimed at Nassar and the University itself.
MSU allowed Nassar to continue working at the University after several complaints for inappropriate behavior had been filed against him. For 16 months, while Nassar was under investigation by MSU's police department, he was granted the ability to continue working. According to Michigan State University spokesperson Jason Cody, Nassar could have been suspended, but was not.
After the investigations and trials subsided, Michigan State came out with a weak apology and the promise of a $10 million counseling fund to help Dr. Nassar's victims recover. However, even his victims feel her apology was a thinly veiled attempt to quickly and quietly move past the issue without truly addressing it or taking action.
"I do not feel that the apology from Lou Anna Simon was heartfelt," Kaylee Lorincz said to the Lansing State Journal after the meeting.
Instead of addressing the issue of Nassar head-on, Lou Anna Simon continues to redirect MSU students to the lackluster Our Commitment website, which insists that MSU is a place "committed to cultivating a safe and inclusive campus community," despite extensive evidence to suggest otherwise.
Simon's apology isn't enough by a long shot — neither is the fund set aside for victim aid. No amount of money can change what happened or account for the damages caused at the hands of Nassar, allowed by the ignorance Michigan State while under Simon's control.
In December, Tom Leonard, the House Speaker called for President Simon to step down. Many other Michigan State students have followed suit, including Elizabeth Pellerito, who started a petition calling for Simon's resignation.
The petition borrows a quote from The Washington Post to point out how many parties knew about Nassar's abuse but chose to remain silent, or to actively silence those who knew the most.
"In 2014, Michigan State investigated Nassar and didn’t tell USA Gymnastics. In 2015, USA Gymnastics cut ties with Nassar and reported him to the FBI but didn’t tell Michigan State. And neither organization informed the high school and local gyms where Nassar continued to treat children until last fall.”
President Simon said, “I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile." But she easily could have stopped him by firing him, or forcing his resignation.
Other University employees who worked directly with Larry Nassar have been somewhat quietly removed from the University's payroll. For example, Kathie Klages resigned from her position as the women's gymnastics coach in February 2017. Klages claims she knew nothing about Nassar's abuse; however, this statement is in direct contrast to reports from two women who say they confided in Klages their abuse from Nassar. She has not faced any charges.
Additionally, Larry Nassar's boss, Dr. William Strampel, who served as the dean of the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, stepped down in December. Strampel had exchanged emails with Nassar following Nassar's Title IX investigation at MSU saying, "I am happy to have you back in full practice."
Dr. Brooke Lemmen, an "expert" in the 2014 Title IX investigation, resigned before she could be fired by the university for her role in removing several boxes of confidential treatment records from MSU's records, per the request of Nassar.
Finally, the gymnastic team was silenced from speaking against Nassar. An MSU official spoke to the women's gymnastics team in the fall of 2016, instructing them to direct all media questions regarding Nassar to the MSU legal department instead of answering themselves. They were also asked to sign a card for Dr. Nassar after he was publicly accused of sexual assault.
The current witch hunt for faculty involved in any sort of sexual misconduct isn't misleading. Lou Anna Simon may be trying to avoid another nationwide scandal, but let's face it, the scandal is already here.