MSU board backs president, asks for Nassar case review

The Michigan State University sign. (File photo)


EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he will review the case surrounding disgraced former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, as requested by MSU’s board of trustees.

“A full and complete review, report and recommendation of what occurred at Michigan State University is required and I will provide that. However, this week and the coming weeks are time for the survivors of Larry Nassar to have their day in court, and I refuse to upstage their time for healing,” Schuette said in a statement issued late Friday morning.

The university issued a letter earlier Friday to Schuette, saying it has confidence in the integrity of the investigations already conducted, but it believes the attorney general’s review may be needed to answer public questions concerning how MSU handled Nassar.

“As you know, these questions grew louder this week with the victim impact statements being given,” the letter states.

MSU PRESIDENT UNDER FIRE

Also growing is the number of people calling for the resignation of MSU President Lou Ann K. Simon in light of the Nassar case.

Thursday morning, The State News’ editorial board made a bold statement with their front page, which read “President Simon, resign.”

“She’s the face and she sets the policies and the biggest change needs to occur from the top down,” managing editor McKenna Ross told 24 Hour News 8 Friday. “I’m proud of The State News. I’m proud of the journalism school. I’m proud of things like that, but I can’t say that things have been handled well and I don’t feel like survivors are getting what they needed out of this experience. And (they’re) not getting the closure from the university.”

Late Thursday, MSU’s student government, the Associated Students of Michigan State University, joined The State News editorial board in calling for Simon to step down.

Student body president Lorenzo Santavicca spoke to 24 Hour News 8 outside Simon’s office Friday afternoon.

“Our campus has been plagued by sexual assault. We had (the) Office of Civil Rights investigating this institution years ago. It’s not to say progress hasn’t been made, but the institutional leadership has not changed and people still make that connection,” Santavicca said. “Students have come to the point now where this is the last straw. Enough is enough; time is up.”

But MSU’s Board of Trustees is sticking by her.

“We continue to believe that President Simon is the right leader for the university, and she has our support,” chairman Brian Breslin said on behalf of the board Friday afternoon.

“I continue to appreciate the confidence of the Board and the many people who have reached out to me, and to them, who have the best interested of MSU at heart. I have always done my best to lead MSU and I will continue to do so today and tomorrow,” Simon stated after the board’s address.

SURVIVORS SPARK RESPONSE

Approximately 120 survivors and supporters are expected to address Nassar during his sentencing, which may stretch into next week as more people come forward to speak.

Simon, who attended the sentencing hearing Wednesday, issued the following statement:

“The testimony of Nassar’s victims this week made many of us, including me, listen to the survivors and the community in a different way. It is clear to the Board and me that a review by the Attorney General’s Office can provide the answers people need. As I told the Attorney General in December, MSU will fully cooperate with any inquiry by law enforcement authorities. I hope this review will help the survivors and the entire MSU community heal and move forward.”

MSU’s request came a day after Target 8 found two trainers softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez went to after she was sexually assaulted still work for MSU. The woman in charge of a 2014 Title IX investigation into Nassar was also promoted sometime after closing the case, MSU’s website showed.

In Friday’s letter, the board again said MSU didn’t try to cover up “the Nassar matter,” and that a recent letter by former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stated Fitzgerald believes no MSU official believed Nassar committed sexual abuse before the allegations surfaced in the media during the summer of 2016. However, the school said it is limited in what it can say publicly because of active lawsuits.

Read the entire statement from the MSU Board of Trustees here:

“Through this terrible situation, the university has been perceived as tone deaf, unresponsive and insensitive to the victims. We understand the public’s faith has been shaken. The Board has listened and heard the victims. Today, the Board acted and has asked the Attorney General’s Office to review the facts in this matter, and as information is presented, the Board will act. This can never happen again. As part of the Board’s oversight authority, we will retain independent external assistance to support our responsibilities to the university community and the public at large. We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”