MSU rejects News’ request for Nassar boss records

The Detroit News

Michigan State University leaders have denied The Detroit News’ appeal to review some personnel documents of the ex-dean of the college’s medical school and former boss of disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar.

The decision came the same day authorities arrested William Strampel, the former dean at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The newspaper sought records concerning Strampel through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act in December — the same month he took a medical leave and weeks before Nassar was sentenced for sexual assaults involving former patients.

A Detroit News investigation found the dean was among at least 14 university staffers who received reports about Nassar’s misconduct in the two decades before his arrest.

MSU responded to The News’ FOIA request in January with records that featured redaction and exemptions under state law. An appeal was filed this month.

In a letter responding to the appeal dated Monday, the university’s Interim President John Engler upheld the earlier decision, saying peer reviews prepared for dean evaluations were exempt from FOIA release.

The reviews were only advisory opinions, and “if reviewers knew that their comments would be available to the public, it would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the openness or ‘frankness’” of their remarks, he wrote.

Engler’s letter coincided with Strampel’s arrest on criminal charges. Investigators allege he used his position to harass, discriminate, proposition, sexually assault and solicit pornographic videos of female students.

Strampel was arraigned Tuesday on the charges, including misconduct by a public official, a five-year felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

His attorney said Strampel, who was appointed MSU’s osteopathic medical school dean in 2002, intends to fight the charges and expects to prevail in court.

Strampel also has been named in lawsuits filed against MSU and Nassar. In February, Engler sought to revoke his tenure.