LSJ editorial calls for Simon to resign
Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that the Lansing State Journal published an editorial on Wednesday. The editorial was published on Sunday.
The Lansing State Journal editorial board called for MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon's resignation in an editorial the newspaper published Sunday. The e-board believes Simon has failed to keep women safe from sexual assault and harassment on campus.
In the editorial, LSJ said Simon has demonstrated a lack of leadership by "failing to fully understand the threats posed by the escalating Nassar crisis and the long-term shortcomings of MSU’s Title IX efforts."
Simon and the trustees have been largely silent about who knew about ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's abuse of women on MSU's campus. The LSJ editorial board wrote that MSU's most visible response has been in hiring law firms.
"At a certain point, the accumulated weight of these problems rests directly on the shoulders of the person at the top: Simon," the editorial claims.
Nassar is accused of sexually abusing more than 140 women and girls, ranging from local gymnasts to Olympic athletes, under the guise of medical treatment.
He was arrested in December 2016 on charges of possessing “at least 37,000” images of child pornography to which he pleaded guilty. His sentencing for the receipt, possession and destruction of child pornography is set for Dec. 7 in federal court.
In November 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to a total of 10 first degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham County and Eaton County. His sentence hearings for these charges, which could range from a minimum of 25-40 years to life in prison per count, are scheduled for January 2018.
Nassar is also a defendant in nine lawsuits, all of which also list MSU, MSU's board of trustees and USA Gymnastics as defendants.
MSU's board of trustees responded to the editorial the same day, and the response was published by LSJ.
"While we respect the role newspapers such as the Lansing State Journal play in asking tough questions of our leaders and institutions, we disagree vehemently with the conclusion drawn in today’s editorial," the MSU board of trustees wrote. "Our full confidence in President Lou Anna K. Simon has not wavered. We firmly believe she is the right leader for this university."
The trustees also said no criminal wrongdoing — aside from Nassar — has been found among MSU employees. If any criminal wrongdoing is found, it will be reported to law enforcement authorities.
MSU is limited in what it can discuss about these matters, the trustees wrote.
"We respect the public’s desire for information and details, but whether due to federal privacy laws or ongoing litigation, we simply are not always in the position to discuss details of specific incidents," according to the response. "This situation is exacerbated by those who selectively ignore other facts about MSU’s continuous improvement and the many details available about our progress, which is available on the university’s Our Commitment website."
Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly attach her name to sexual assault allegations against Nassar, also wrote a response to LSJ's editorial Wednesday, which LSJ published.
"As the first sexual assault victim to speak publicly about Larry Nassar, I want to thank the editorial board of the Lansing State Journal for the incredibly courageous stand they took in calling for the resignation of Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon," Denhollander wrote.
Denhollander asserts that because MSU refuses to see their role in enabling Nassar, leadership change at MSU is needed.
"My greatest hope when I came forward was to see real leadership at MSU," Denhollander wrote. "I waited five months before joining the civil lawsuit because I desperately hoped to see this leadership. But that leadership never came, and the list of things that could have, and should have, been done differently for the last two decades, only grows as we continue down this road."
Denhollander also said that every organization that enabled Nassar to continue his abuse needs a change of leadership, including the United States Gymnastics Association and the United States Olympic Committee.
MSU's next board of trustees meeting will take place Dec. 15.
Stay with The State News for continued news coverage related to ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Other stories on survivors and cases can be found under the 'Larry Nassar coverage' tag on our website.