Editorial: AG should move ahead on MSU probe
The state attorney general’s office is engaged in an extensive review of whether the serial molestation of girls and young women associated with the Michigan State University gymnastics program merits further investigation into who at the college knew what, and when.
That’s a welcome development in a case that appeared at risk of fading away without those essential questions being answered.
Attorney General Bill Schuette previously led the prosecution of Larry Nassar, the MSU physician accused of assaulting scores of girls who came to see him for treatment of sports related injuries over the course of more than 20 years.
Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison on a child pornography conviction. And he’s pleaded guilty to 10 rape charges brought by female gymnasts.
But so far, the investigation has stopped with Nassar’s criminal activities. Whether negligence by MSU officials enabled the assaults to go on for so long has not been explored by either the university or law enforcement officials.
Schuette is now weighing whether there is cause to probe further. We’d urge him to do so.
From what is publicly known, it’s hard to see how the attorney general and his staff can come to any conclusion other than to investigate whether MSU officials are culpable.
The university, under the leadership of President Lou Anna Simon and a pliant board of trustees, has been stubbornly resistant to finding out whether MSU officials may have ignored complaints from victims about Nassar’s treatment practices.
MSU tried to pass off the work of a high-profile law firm as an independent investigation, but a look at the contract the university signed with the attorneys makes it clear their role is to mitigate MSU’s legal exposure.
The college faces 150 federal lawsuits from Nassar’s alleged victims. MSU is only concerned with limiting its liability, not holding to account those on its payroll who may have been negligent.
At least seven girls claim they told coaches, MSU staff and the police about what Nassar had done to them between 1997 and 2015. Yet no action was taken to stop him.
MSU first suspended and then allowed its gymnastics coach, Kathy Klages, to retire. Some of the gymnasts say the coach scoffed at them when they raised complaints about Nassar.
Likewise, Nassar’s boss, Dr. William Strample, clearly had enough information that something was amiss to send the doctor a letter urging him to change his tactics.
That seems a good starting point for an investigation by the attorney general. As would interviewing the women and girls who say they were molested by Nassar. Criminal investigators have not sat down with the alleged victims to find out who they may have told about Nassar’s behavior.
It is encouraging that Schuette is reconsidering an MSU investigation. A similar situation at Penn State University involving young boys who were molested on campus by a former football coach resulted in criminal charges against several university officials, including the president and athletic director.
The similarities between PSU and MSU are too striking to ignore.
We continue to urge the attorney general to break through the MSU cover-up and determine how a sexual predator of the magnitude of Larry Nassar found a safe haven on the campus for so long to carry out his disgusting attacks.