Five takeaways from Attorney General Schuette's press conference
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap spoke at a press conference Wednesday to provide an update to the criminal sexual assault investigations against ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. Here are five things to know from the press conference.
1. Nassar has been charged with 22 additional counts of criminal sexual conduct
As reported Wednesday, former MSU employee Nassar has been charged with 22 additional counts of criminal sexual conduct, all of the first degree. Schuette said each of these counts are life offenses.
The 22 cases involved nine young girls. Five of the cases involve two girls who were both under 13 at the time of the alleged assault. The remaining 15 cases involve the other seven girls, who were between the ages of 13 and 16 at the time of the alleged assault.
Schuette said he expects to see more charges filed against Nassar in the future, but it is unclear when these charges will be coming.
These charges were filed in two counties. They were filed at Ingham County's 55th District Court and Eaton County's 56A District Court.
Nassar pleaded not guilty to 23 charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct at the 55th District Court in Mason, Mich. Thursday morning. Nassar also pleaded not guilty to 13 charges in Eaton County, Mich Thursday afternoon.
2. MSU police are investigating more than 80 reported sexual assaults
MSU police are currently investigating more than 80 reported sexual assaults against Nassar, Dunlap said during the press conference.
"We have compiled over 600 investigative reports, we've executed multiple search warrants, compiled and reviewed thousands and thousands of supporting documents and interviewed nearly 300 people," he said.
MSUPD, which consists of 85 police officers, has secured 28 felony charges and incitements against Nassar.
"From the MSU Police Department there have been as many as 17 investigators assigned full-time, as well as digital forensics detectives, a crime analyst and more importantly, we have assigned 10 trained special victims unit investigators from our department who specialize in these kinds of cases," Dunlap said.
All findings by MSU police have been and will continue to be turned over to the Attorney General or to the U.S. Attorney for review and prosecution.
3. Similar cases filed against Nassar in 2004 and 2014 were never prosecuted and are being reviewed a second time
Similar cases against Nassar were filed in 2004 and 2014, but these cases were never prosecuted. These cases are now being reviewed a second time and one case is active again.
"The 2004 case was investigated by Meridian Township. They've turned that over to us, so it's currently under review. It was never referred to the prosecutor's office," Dunlap said. "The 2014 case was investigated by our office and turned over to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office for further review and they declined to authorize warrants in 2014. That case is back under active review again."
Schuette said these cases never reached the Department of Attorney General and they had no role in the investigation or prosecution of these cases.
4. The investigations against Nassar are taking a toll on investigators
The investigations of Nassar cases have cost the department tens of thousands of dollars on the investigative side. In addition to taking a financial toll, the investigators have been affected as well, Dunlap said, citing overtime and fatigue as affecting the officers.
"They're tired. They've worked every weekend. We've been working, you know, some of our detectives in shifts in the evening," Dunlap said.
Although MSU police is fortunate to be staffed heavily in areas of sexual assault victims and relationship violence, Dunlap said, there is still a backlog of cases.
"We've wanted to do the most thorough job we can and we're committed to devote whatever it takes," Dunlap said. "We've reassigned people where it's necessary to cover things, paid overtime and that's the most important thing, to do the thorough job on it."
5. Former federal prosecutor and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald leading MSU internal investigation
A former MSU athlete penned an open letter to President Lou Anna K. Simon last week addressing her concerns that MSU had turned a blind eye to former Nassar patients.
When asked whether MSU police has been reaching out to former Nassar patients, Dunlap said former patients who were treated medically by Nassar would have confidential medical files. MSU police has, however, reached out to victims who have come forward on their own terms.
When asked to comment on whether or not the university had been negligent or had been slow to respond, Schuette said, "Our job is reviewing the criminal actions of Larry Nassar. Period."
MSU is currently conducting an internal investigation headed by Patrick Fitzgerald, a former federal prosecutor and United States Attorney. Fitzgerald will provide guidance on MSU's interaction with the Nassar cases.
"The best I can say is that this is Patrick Fitzgerald's responsibility and that's part of the internal investigation that MSU, it appears to me from reading the paper, is doing," Schuette said.