Finley: AG must step up for MSU victims

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Questions about Michigan State University’s role in the molestation of scores of female gymnasts on its campus are not going to answer themselves.

And MSU, fearful of legal liability, obviously has no interest in sorting out how the university may have failed the scores of young girls and women who were the victims of Dr. Larry Nassar over the course of nearly a quarter century.

So it will be up to someone else to determine whether anyone at Michigan State could have acted sooner to put a stop to this monster.

The most likely someone is Attorney General Bill Schuette, who pressed the criminal sexual assault cases against Nassar but has shown little urgency to probe the university and its officials for possible negligence.

But evidence is building that MSU continued to deliver victims to Dr. Nassar while ignoring clear warning flags about his behavior. These new reports are disturbing and demand a thorough investigation.

That’s Schuette’s job, and he has to do it.

The attorney general must empanel a grand jury to examine the evidence that suggests MSU has been engaged in a cover up that first enabled Nassar to continue his assaults and then sought to shield university officials from accountability.

Over the past week, investigative reporting by The Detroit News, the Lansing State Journal and other outlets has uncovered, among other things, that for 16 months while MSU campus police were investigating the molestation allegations, the university allowed Nassar to continue treating female athletes.

During that time, he was supposed to have another person in the room whenever he was seeing a patient. But a medical assistant whose job it was to be in the exam room was ordered out by Nassar. And after she informed university officials, she was fired.

Also, Olympic gymnastic champion McKayla Maroney, who is suing MSU in federal court along with 150 other Nassar victims, revealed USA Gymnastics, which also used Nassar to treat its athletes, paid her $1.2 million to remain silent about the abuse, a settlement that appears to violate California law.

Previous reporting revealed gymnasts had complained of Nassar’s treatment to MSU Coach Kathie Klages, who ignored them, and that Nassar’s boss, Dr. William Strampel, was aware enough of what was going on to urge the doctor to alter his practices.

There’s too much smoke not to think there is a fire somewhere.

The attorney general must reopen the Nassar investigation to focus on whether MSU officials failed to protect these women and girls, some as young as 10 years old. A spokesman for the AG said last week he couldn’t comment on whether that’s his intent.

There’s no indication that these victims have been interviewed by investigators to find out who at MSU they told about what was happening to them. That would be a good place for the attorney general’s staff to start.

Duty demands Schuette dig out the answers these young sexual assault victims crave to help put the trauma behind them. Answers MSU, a public institution, refuses to give them.

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