Prosecutor: MSU's 'culture of indifference' allowed Nassar to continue abusing women

Cassandra Negley
Special Prosecutor Bill Forsyth, released findings from the state’s investigation into Michigan State University. (AP)
Special Prosecutor Bill Forsyth, released findings from the state’s investigation into Michigan State University. (AP)

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office released its report on Michigan State University’s handling of sexual assault allegations against Larry Nassar, stating Friday morning the “culture of indifference and institutional protection” led to the growing scandal over the years.

The 16-page report found that university employees not only failed to file reports regarding Nassar, but tried to block the investigation, according to the Lansing State Journal. A quarter of the report focuses on the 2014 Title IX investigation that cleared Nassar of any wrongdoing.

William Forsyth, the special prosecutor who led the investigation, said it’s “virtually impossible to know exactly what happened at MSU during the Nassar years.”

“For as long as MSU frustrates the search for the truth, we will never be fully confident that we have it,” he said.

Eleven employees failed to report

The report found that 13 women in the nearly 20-year span from 1997 to 2015 reported abuse to MSU employees and 11 employees failed to report it to authorities. That information has been in previous reports.

Almost all of the 11 denied they received a report or said they didn’t remember in interviews with the AG’s office, according to the report. The AG’s investigation also provided details about what the victims said to employees.

Forsyth wrote in the report that those who knew “downplayed its seriousness or affirmatively discouraged” the gymnasts from going further with the allegations.

From the State Journal:

“That so many survivors independently disclosed to so many different MSU employees over so many years, each time with no success, reveals a problem that cannot be explained as mere isolated, individual failures; it is evidence of a larger cultural problem at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic and MSU more broadly.”

Failure to cooperate

The university “fostered a culture of indifference toward sexual assault, motivated by its desire to protect its reputation” through a “common thread” of actions, according to the report.

Per the report the university issued false public statements, submitted hundreds of irrelevant documents such as bed bug policy and restaurant coupons, fought the release of relevant documents and incorrectly used attorney-client privilege.

MSU issues apology

MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant released a statement to the State Journal apologizing that Nassar was on its campus while commenting that the report did not find any further criminal conduct beyond those already charged.

State Journal reporter Matt Mencarini noted the similarities in MSU’s statements throughout the investigations and hearings.

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What happens next?

The university has yet to release 177 documents wanted by prosecutors. That battle is ongoing in court, according to the State Journal.

Forsyth described the report as a “summary of the general findings to this point,” writes the State Journal, and did not say the state investigation was over. Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel will take over in the new year. She called MSU’s actions “callous disregard” for the victims, per the State Journal.

Former MSU president Lou Anna Simon, former dean William Strampel and former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages have all been previously charged in the investigation. The prosecutions will be overseen by Nessel.

The U.S. House subcommittee released its report about Nassar on Thursday, finding the USOC culture at fault, and the independent investigation by Ropes & Grey released two weeks ago found the USOC also covered up for Nassar, even deleting emails proving their knowledge.

You can read the full report by the special prosecutor below:

MSU Investigation Status Up… by on Scribd

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