Former Michigan State president charged with lying in Larry Nassar investigation

Dan Wetzel
Columnist
Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon has been charged with lying to police conducting an investigation of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. (AP)

The next shoe, and it’s a big one, dropped at Michigan State University Tuesday when Lou Anna K. Simon, the school’s former president, was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors in relation to the Larry Nassar scandal.

Simon is accused of not detailing to police that she knew Nassar specifically was the subject of a 2014 Title IX investigation. She told police she knew about a “sports medical doc” being “subject to a review” but did not reveal that she knew exactly who it was or that it involved a Title IX investigation into abusing a patient.

“When asked about whether she was aware of any investigation involving Larry Nassar prior to 2016, she falsely or misleadingly said that ‘I was aware that in 2014 there was a sports medicine doc who was subject to a review’ when in fact she knew it was Larry Nassar who was the subject of the 2014 MSU Title IX investigation,” the arrest warrant reads.

Simon, 71, faces up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

“The charges are false and political. The only crime is the indictment and they will pay for it,” Simon’s attorney Mayer Morganroth said in a statement.

It is an astounding fall from grace for Simon, who became MSU’s first female president in 2005 and was widely credited for doing an excellent job running and growing the university. She resigned earlier this year after significant criticism of her handling of the Nassar case, especially the aftermath.

Nassar is a former MSU doctor who sexually assaulted hundreds of his patients, both at his office inside the College of Osteopathic Medicine and during his work with USA Gymnastics. He is currently serving a federal prison sentence on child pornography charges and faces hundreds of years in state prison.

His sentencing hearing last January drew some 150 victim impact statements and became a powerful statement for survivors of sexual assault. Simon was criticized for not attending the first day of the sentencing and later only made a brief appearance. She resigned soon after.

She joins Dean Strampel, Nassar’s former boss, in being charged in the case.

Simon is taking a leave of absence without pay from the university. She is a tenured professor in MSU’s Department of Education and was making $750,000 per year.

This case centers around a 2014 complaint by Amanda Thomashow, who was referred to Nassar due to hip pain. On her first visit, she says he sexually assaulted her. She filed a complaint with the MSU police department two months later and a Title IX investigation resulted.

However, Nassar was allowed to continue treating patients into 2016.

Michigan State has been criticized for not acting more aggressively, and numerous law enforcement and investigative bodies have been accused of failing to communicate properly.

Simon has steadfastly claimed that had she understood the scope of Nassar’s actions she would have stopped it.

Now, however, she is facing her own legal issues, exactly one year after Nassar plead guilty for his actions in Ingham County Court.

For Michigan State, this is the highest ranking official to be charged. Whether it will be the last remains to be seen.

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