Statements on Nassar from prominent officials
Former MSU employee Larry Nassar’s lawyers are focused on avoiding a trial by media.
At the request of the defense, Ingham County Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina signed an order last week which limits what can be said publicly about Nassar’s sexual assault trials.
Plaintiffs are barred from discussing details of the case that are not already in court documents. Plaintiffs and attorneys — including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette — must also refer to Nassar by name or as “the defendant."
Schuette recently referred to Nassar as a “monster” in a press conference.
The order also bars attorneys from publicly commenting on the strengths or weaknesses of the other side’s case. This is likely in response to comments made on Facebook by attorney Jamie White, which made headlines when Judge Julie O’Neill was reassigned from Nassar’s case after “liking” the post. The post, dated Feb. 14, said “Nassar’s defense is not strong.”
Here are the public statements that have been made about Nassar since his arrest in November.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
In a Feb. 22 press conference, Schuette said Nassar had violated his oath to do no harm.
“Dr. Nassar preyed on these young girls, just little girls. Dr. Nassar used his status and his authority to engage in horrid sexual assaults under the guise of medical procedures,” Schuette said. “This guy is disgusting, this guy is despicable, he is a monster.”
Schuette’s office is prosecuting Nassar, whose actions Schuette described as “horrifying.”
“As a parent and as a father of a daughter, I cannot imagine the heartbreak and the anger and the heartache experienced by parents who took their child to a physician seeking help who then sexually assaulted their daughter,” he said.
MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap
In the same Feb. 22 press conference, Dunlap confirmed MSUPD is investigating more than 80 sexual assault allegations against Nassar.
“Our priority is getting justice for the survivors and we are determined to make certain that occurs,” Dunlap said. “I encourage anyone who may have been a victim of Larry Nassar to come forward by contacting the MSU Police Department.”
Dunlap also confirmed similar cases were filed with MSUPD in 2004 and 2014, but were never prosecuted. The 2004 case was never referred to the prosecutor’s office, and the 2014 case was turned over to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, who declined to authorize warrants.
MSU alumna Catherine Hannum
Hannum sent an email, which she later made public, to MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon detailing her interactions with Nassar as one of his former patients and asking why MSU had not reached out to former patients.
“It is painful to live with the knowledge that a predator was enabled by silent bystanders to have access to my body for 4 years, and to know that many of my teammates and athletic peers were put at risk and may have suffered at his hands,” Hannum wrote. “It is most painful to me that my University has not had the integrity to reach out to Dr. Nassar’s former patients, apologize and offer its support to them.”
Larissa Boyce and Tony Guerrero
Boyce and Guerrero, both plaintiffs in Denhollander et al vs. Michigan State University et al, released their identities last week in a press conference.
Boyce, a former Nassar patient, described coming forward with her concerns about Nassar’s conduct to former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages. Klages allegedly pressured Boyce to not file a report against Nassar.
“I feel like they haven’t shown integrity through this. I feel like they’re more worried about their image than the survivors of this,” Boyce said of MSU. “They’re more worried about making sure that they look like they are innocent of knowing anything instead of saying, ‘We’re sorry this happened on our watch.’”
Guerrero described becoming suspicious of Nassar after his daughter became a patient in 2014. He too was critical of MSU’s role in the scandal.
"MSU should be held accountable," Guerrero said. "Everyone at MSU should be gone. They covered for him."
Twistars is named as a defendant in a lawsuit against Nassar. Nassar worked with Twistars gymnasts from 1996 to 2016, and multiple assaults allegedly took place on the premises.
Owners John and Kathryn Geddert released a statement saying the safety of their athletes is Twistars' top priority.
“We had zero knowledge of any of the allegations against Dr. Nassar, who was never an employee of Twistars,” they said. “Our hearts go out to the women who have spoken up and, like everyone else, we are sickened to the core by their stories.”
USA Gymnastics has also been named as a defendant in lawsuits against Nassar. On Feb. 16, they posted a statement to their website from board chairman Paul Parilla and CEO Steve Penny, who has since resigned.
“USA Gymnastics is appalled that anyone would exploit a young athlete or child in the manner alleged,” the statement said.
The statement also says that USA Gymnastics immediately investigated claims against Nassar. USA Gymnastics made their initial report to the FBI in July 2015, according to the statement.
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon sent an email statement to MSU community members on Feb. 3 regarding the sexual assault allegations against Nassar.
Simon revealed in her statement that MSU is being advised by an external law firm in the case.
The MSU community "will undoubtedly see more" allegations against Nassar, Simon said in the statement.
“This situation is still unfolding as allegations continue to emerge regarding Nasser’s criminal and repugnant behavior,” Simon wrote. “I want to recognize the courage it takes for individuals to come forward with details of personally traumatic events and assure you we are looking into every aspect of this situation with integrity and diligence.”