Police: Agenda item, note show Simon discussed Nassar investigation in 2014

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Lou Anna K. Simon, MSU president arrives in court to hear victims make "impact statements" in front of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina about defendant Larry Nassar, in district court on January 17, 2018, in Lansing.

Police believe an agenda item and a handwritten note from a May 19, 2014, meeting are proof former Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and her senior adviser discussed a sexual assault investigation into former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, according to court records.

In a hearing Tuesday, Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. William Arndt told Eaton County District Judge Julie Reincke that police obtained documentation from the meeting with notes indicating Nassar was discussed by name, despite Simon’s statement to police that she was aware in 2014 only of a “sports medicine doc who was subject to a review.”

According to court transcripts, Simon told police in a May 1, 2018, interview at their Dimondale offices that she “was not aware of any of the substance of that review, the nature of the complaint; all that was learned in 2016.”

“These documents show that Simon knew about the nature of the allegations against the sports medicine doc who was the subject to (sic) review in 2014, and contrary to her statements that she was not aware,” Arndt said Tuesday, according to court transcripts.

Simon made the misleading claims, Arndt said, to "insulate" herself and MSU from criminal and civil liability and "preserve the reputation of MSU."

At the conclusion of the hearing Tuesday, Reincke signed off on a warrant for Simon for two misdemeanor counts and two felony counts of lying to a peace officer during the investigation into Nassar. The felony charges carry up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Simon's attorney, Lee Silver of Grand Rapids, said Tuesday the charges have "no merit whatsoever" and are "completely baseless."

"I have not seen a shred of evidence to support these charges, which I believe are completely baseless," Silver said. "We are confident that when we have our day in court, Dr. Simon will be exonerated and these charges will be proven to have no merit whatsoever."

The Detroit News reported in January that Simon was informed in 2014 that a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician.

Simon resigned from the university presidency that month but stayed on in a lesser role at MSU.

Simon's charging documents allege the longtime MSU president was aware in 2014 “there was a sports medicine doc who was subject to a review.” But police claimed that Simon knew “it was Larry Nassar who was the subject of the 2014 MSU Title IX investigation to the Amanda Thomashow complaint.”

Thomashow's Title IX complaint was investigated in 2014 after she had a March 24, 2014, appointment with Nassar for treatment of hip pain, and he touched her inappropriately. Thomashow, who declined comment Wednesday, also reported Nassar’s behavior to the MSU police department in May 2014.

In July 2014, Thomashow’s Title IX investigation was closed by MSU and she was given a report that cleared Nassar of sexual harassment. A second report sent to MSU personnel and marked confidential also cleared Nassar but warned of his liability to the university. 

Fellow survivor Larissa Boyce took to Twitter Wednesday to call on MSU to reopen Thomashow’s Title IX investigation to set the record straight and give closure to Thomashow and other victims.

The dual reports and closed Title IX investigation need to be resolved, Boyce said.

“For her as a survivor, that means there’s paper out there saying she was wrong, she lied and she was never sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” Boyce said.

Boyce has said she told former MSU women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages about Nassar in 1997 when she was a 16-year-old gymnast. But Klages, who also was charged with lying to a peace officer in August, didn’t believe her.

The charges against Simon were further proof of “justice prevailing,” Boyce said.

“It makes me sad that its continuing, but we’ve got to root out everything that went wrong in order to learn from it,” she said.

According to Arndt, Thomashow notified MSU Sports Medicine Clinic Director Dr. Jeffrey Kovan of Nassar’s actions on April 18, 2014, who forwarded the complaint to the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives for investigation.

Kristine Moore was assigned to the complaint and, more than three weeks after Kovan had forwarded the complaint to her office, Moore called and interviewed Thomashow on May 15, 2014, according to court records. On May 16, 2014, Moore informed her supervisor, Paulette Granberry Russell, of the details of the allegations against Nassar. Russell also was a senior adviser to Simon.

That same day, Russell sent an email to Simon stating, “we had an incident involving a sports medicine doc,” according to court records.

Three days later, Russell and Simon had a meeting. Russell’s folder for the meeting, obtained by police, was labeled “Sports Med, Dr. Nassar, SA.” SA stood for sexual assault, Russell told police.

“Russell also stated that she wrote the note because the incident was problematic for the university, which was then also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, and she wanted to remind herself for the meeting with Simon on Monday, May 19th,” Arndt said, according to court transcripts.

Inside the folder an agenda for the meeting listed “COM Incident” as item six, which Russell told police stood for College of Osteopathic Medicine and concerned the allegations against Nassar.

Simon’s own agenda for the meeting included an item related to sexual assault cases, and next to that entry is a notation in Simon’s handwriting, 'COM,'” according to a police affidavit.

When police interviewed Simon at their offices in Dimondale on May 1, she stated “she was aware only of a sports med doc” who was the subject of a Title IX investigation, Arndt told Reincke.

“That the president of MSU knew both Nassar’s identity and nature of the allegations against him as early as 2014 would have been critically important to agents investigating the scope and depth of MSU’s knowledge of, and potential involvement in, Dr. Nassar’s criminal behavior, including MSU’s responses to it,” Arndt said, according to court transcripts.

After issuing the warrant Tuesday, Reincke asked Arndt, “Case doesn’t end, does it?”

According to court transcripts, Arndt replied, “No. I hope soon though.”


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