Michigan State University will be investigated by a special prosecutor “from the president’s office down” following the Larry Nassar trial.
According to CNN, the investigation began last year; however, the scope of it was just announced Saturday. It will reportedly center around how now-convicted, former MSU sports physician Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of young women and girls could have continued for almost two decades without the university taking action. The aim of the investigation is to not only determine how Nassar’s abuse of patients was allowed to continue, but who knew and did what at MSU. The investigation will be led by William Forsyth, a retired Kent County prosecutor with the help of the director of the Michigan State Police, Colonel Kriste Etue.
“My department…will find out who knew what and when, who took action, who failed to take action, what did or did not happen, and what should have happened,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette at a news conference before adding, “No individual and no department at Michigan State University is off limits.” Schuette’s announcement comes just three days after Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for criminal sexual misconduct. This sentence is in addition to the 60 years he must serve in federal prison for the possession of thousands of images of child pornography, for which he was convicted in December of last year.
As part of Nassar’s guilty plea, more than 150 young women came forward to confront him and to speak publicly about their abuse in court. Of the staggering number of women who spoke, a number of them have civil lawsuits listing Michigan State and USA Gymnastics in addition to Nassar. Both institutions are accused of improperly dismissing or concealing the allegations of abuse.
The Detroit News recently published a story which reports that at least 14 Michigan State University representatives were aware of allegations of misconduct against Nassar in the 20 years before he was arrested. This included athletic trainers, assistant coaches, university police, and faculty. The Detroit News found that at least eight women reported Nassar. Some young women were discouraged from reporting their experiences, as was the case with Larissa Boyce who was advised by MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages not to report the abuse.
MSU President Lou Anna Simon was among the MSU staff informed when a Title IX complaint and a police report were filed. Since Nassar was convicted, both Simon and Athletic Director Mark Hollis have announced their resignation from their positions at the university.
The Title IX complaint, a federal law set in place to protect people from sexual discrimination in education and other programs receiving federal aid, was received by the university in 2014, but Nassar was cleared when the investigation concluded his actions were not of a sexual nature.
According to the more than 150 civil lawsuits against the former sports physician, the earliest known assault occurred in 1992 during the time he was earning his osteopathic medical degree from MSU; however, it was not reported to the university at the time. The first person who reportedly told MSU about Nassar was Larissa Boyce in 1997, nearly 20 years before he was fired and prosecuted.
The question countless people are waiting to have answered is, did the university fail to see what was going on or were they complicit? Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette assured that no stone would be left unturned saying, “We’re going to put a bright light…at every corner of the university. This will be done right, period.”
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