Meridian Twp. to Nassar victim: 'We failed you'
Brianne Randall-Gay listens-in from Seattle via Skype, as Meridian Twp. Manager Frank Walsh makes a public apology for the police department's failure to fully investigate Larry Nassar in 2004 when she brought a complaint of sexual assault. Dale G. Young, The Detroit News
Okemos — Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh said Thursday that township police were “deceived and manipulated” by Larry Nassar in 2004 when they investigated a sexual assault complaint against the now disgraced sports doctor that year but never forwarded the police report to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office before deciding to drop the case.
Walsh apologized, telling the woman who reported Nassar’s abuse, Brianne Randall-Gay, “we failed you. We let you down, and you don’t know how sorry, I know we’ve had a lot of private conversations ... but we felt what happened needed to be done in public.”
The township manager fought to hold back tears, apologizing multiple times to the community and to Randall-Gay, promising comprehensive sexual assault training and a review of every criminal sexual conduct complaint lodged in the past 18 years to make sure they didn’t make similar mistakes before.
“We are sorry that we were manipulated back in 2004,” Walsh said.
Walsh said the offices of the Ingham County Prosecutor asked in 2016 that the township police department wait to release the report. In 2017, the Attorney General’s office also discouraged the department from releasing its report on Randall-Gay until after the criminal prosecution of Nassar was concluded. Both offices said releasing the police report could endanger prosecution.
Walsh also said the abuse happened at a Michigan State University sports medicine clinic in Meridian Township, but officers never informed the university.
The local leader said there were times he wanted to release the report, but he ultimately decided to wait upon warnings from the county prosecutor and state’s attorney general.
Randall-Gay told reporters at the press conference that she felt ignored when the police department decided to not go forward with her complaint.
“I felt like my complaint was ignored,” she said. “I felt like I was ignored.”
Police in Meridian Township declined in 2004 to seek charges against Nassar despite a claim by Randall-Gay, then a 17-year-old patient, that the sports medicine doctor touched her bare breast and put his hands on her vagina.
Instead, the department accepted Nassar’s story that the procedure he performed on Randall-Gay was a medical technique, according to a newly released police report obtained Wednesday by The Detroit News. An earlier Freedom of Information Act request seeking the report from Meridian police had been denied.
Meridian Township police investigator Andrew McCready wrote in the Sept. 23, 2004, report that Nassar told police he did touch Randall-Gay during an exam on Sept. 16, 2004. The high school student had come to Nassar for treatment of back pain.
Nassar told police he touched Randall-Gay “in the perineum” and the procedure was a “medical technique” to relieve pressure from a ligament that runs through the pelvic region.
Randall-Gay, a high school soccer and tennis player, told a high school friend and then her mother about the visit. The next day, she and her mother came to police to file the report. Police sent her to Sparrow Hospital for a rape kit exam.
In the police report, McCready reiterated to Randall-Gay’s mother Nassar’s explanation that he was performing a legitimate medical procedure.
In an interview in January, Randall-Gay, now 30, told The Detroit News she was disappointed by how police had handled her complaint against Nassar.
Nassar has been sentenced to 40-175 years in prison for criminal sexual misconduct he committed over a period of two decades. Eaton County Judge Janice K. Cunningham said Wednesday in his latest sentencing hearing that 265 women have come forward as victims of Nassar.
“We can’t undo what happened in 2004; we can only be better because of it. I will hold everyone accountable to make sure that happens. And this board is gonna hold me accountable,” Walsh said.
“There’s just no excuse for it. It was a bad judgment call, and we’re here because of it,” Walsh said.
Randall-Gay will now help the department train its staff on handling future sexual assault cases.
“I can’t change what happened to me back then, but I can hopefully change the future for other victims,” she said.