‘You’re a coward’: Survivors of Larry Nassar abuse call out Lou Anna K. Simon for not attending his sentence hearing
Five young woman said during their impact-statements they believe Michigan State failed them
Since Larry Nassar's sentence hearing began Tuesday morning, more than five young women have said they wished Michigan State had done more to protect them, a few of them calling out Lou Anna K. Simon directly for choosing not to attend the first day of the hearing.
President Simon was not present at the sentencing hearing in Ingham County Tuesday morning. Her absence did not go unnoticed by the young women and girls who bravely came forward to share their stories of the abuse they suffered at the hands of Mr. Nassar.
"How convenient that you've decided not to attend today," said Olivia Cowan of Lou Anna K. Simon's decision not to attend the sentence hearing. "You're a coward."
Cowan holds President Simon responsible for the assault that took place at the university. In 2014 and 2015, Larry Nassar was being criminally investigated by Michigan State for abuse allegations. During that time, he was allowed to continue seeing patients.
Victim Olivia Cowan states Michigan State University enabled decades of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar. See our full investigation into MSU's culpability coming up at 12:30 ET on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/8PAdyAcYGy
— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) January 16, 2018
"It sickens me that for 16 months, you allowed Larry Nassar to see young children," Olivia said. The investigation, which ultimately found Nassar not guilty of assault, relied heavily on four testimonies, all from faculty and staff who had close personal ties with Nassar.
Cowan believes that President Simon's absence was simply another example of her lack of accountability concerning the Nassar charges.
Olivia Cowan holds MSU responsible for not taking action at the first report. She calls out Lou Anna K. Simon for not attending. "It sickens me that for 16 months, you allowed Larry Nassar to see young children…while he was under investigation for abuse"
— The Tab MSU (@TheTabMSU) January 16, 2018
Olivia Cowan is not the only young woman to chide MSU for their lack of action. Kate Mahon said in her statement that had MSU or USAG taken the first complaints more seriously, he could have been convicted two decades ago.
The culture at MSU which allowed Nassar to continue to see student athletes despite numerous complaints made to Kathie Klages and other university officials has been widely criticized.
Jennifer Rood Bedford, a former Michigan State volleyball player, says Nassar was jokingly referred to as "The Crotch Doc." by her fellow teammates. Jennifer was abused by Nassar and tried to file an official complaint but was dissuaded.
Nicole Soos, a figure skater, explained how she expected more from her alma mater, and that Michigan State's lack of action shows they stand behind a serial predator.
Soos said MSU's lack of action shows they stand behind a serial predator. She said she had hoped for more from alma mater.
— Matt Mencarini (@MattMencarini) January 16, 2018
In a statement to The Tab, Michigan State spokesperson Jason Cody explained why President Simon and Board of Trustee Chairperson Brian Breslin did not attend the sentence hearing.
"They believe Nassar's sentencing is about getting justice for the victims, so the focus and priority should remain on them," the statement reads.
"They are truly sorry for the abuse these victims suffered and want to hear these brave woman as they make their voices heard. Both the president and Trustee Breslin are viewing the sentencing hearing through live media streaming."
Following backlash, President Simon attended the second day of the sentence hearing. The hearing will continue through Friday afternoon.