Simon charges in Nassar probe sparks senate testimony review

The Detroit News

Charges leveled against former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon for allegedly lying in the sexual assault investigation into ex-sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar are pushing lawmakers to re-examine what she told them earlier this year.

On Wednesday, a representative for U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, chairman of the subcommittee that fielded her testimony said in an email: "The subcommittee expects witnesses to provide truthful testimony as required by 18 USC 1001, and will be independently reviewing Ms. Simon’s testimony."

In June, Simon spoke before a U.S. Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the health and safety of USA Gymnastics, U.S. Olympic and NCAA athletes. In her first public comments about the Nassar scandal since resigning her university post following his sentencing in January, she apologized for his victims and said she regrets that he perpetrated some of his crimes on campus.

“Had I known, I would have taken immediate action to prevent him from preying on additional survivors, including terminating his employment and reporting him to the police, as was done in 2016," she testified.  “Not a day goes by without me wishing that he had been caught and punished sooner. And not a day goes by without me wondering what we missed and what we could have done to detect this evil before the 2016 complaint."

Nassar is effectively serving a life sentence in prison after admitting to sexually abusing girls and women under the guise of medical treatment and to possessing child pornography.

A Detroit News investigation named Simon among 14 MSU staff members who received reports of Nassar’s sexual abuse over two decades.

Simon had told The News in January that she was informed in 2014 of a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed sports medicine doctor, but that she did not receive a copy of the report. 

In her testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, Simon said she also did not ask for a copy.

She also said that Nassar was a “celebrated” sports doctor who treated Olympic stars, but also a “shrewd criminal predator” who “fooled everyone around him,” including colleagues and law enforcement.

However, this week Simon was charged with four counts of lying to a peace officer — two felonies, two misdemeanors — as part of an investigation into Nassar by the Michigan State Police according to a state Attorney General's office warrant filed in Eaton County's district court. The felony charges carry up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The document says Simon "did knowingly and willfully make a statement or statements to the officer that he or she knew was false or misleading regarding the following material fact or facts relating to the investigation."

Police believe an agenda item and a handwritten note from a May 19, 2014, meeting are proof Simon and her senior adviser discussed a sexual assault investigation into Nassar, according to court records.