Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Police report sheds light on MSU employee actions during Nassar investigation

April 3, 2018
Larry Nassar listens to a victim impact statement during the first day of his sentencing on Jan. 31, 2018, in the Eaton County courtroom. Nassar faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County.
Larry Nassar listens to a victim impact statement during the first day of his sentencing on Jan. 31, 2018, in the Eaton County courtroom. Nassar faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

MSU Police Det. Sgt. Andrea Munford's police report of the investigation into ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual misconduct brings attention to the roles played by a pair of MSU officials close to Nassar, Michigan Radio reports.

Brooke Lemmen, a colleague of Nassar's at MSU SportsMEDICINE, resigned in January 2017 following a series of controversial actions.

Lemmen was interviewed by then-MSU Title IX coordinator Kristine Moore as an expert, not a witness, in the 2014 Title IX investigation into Nassar. The Lansing State Journal reported that Lemmen, as well as other experts interviewed for the investigation, were chosen based on Nassar's recommendation despite the personal relationships with him.

Lemmen also removed some of Nassar's patient files from the university at his request in September 2016.

According to a police report obtained by Michigan Radio, Nassar asked Lemmen to give him charts that could help identify a "Jane Doe" who had filed a federal lawsuit against him. 

Lemmen had second thoughts about removing the records and called MSU Health Administrator Susan Dolby to talk before she was supposed to give them to Nassar. Dolby convinced Lemmen to return the records, and Lemmen secured them in a locked cage at MSU and tipped off police about the situation.

Lemmen was interviewed by police in her office a week later, Michigan Radio reports. In the interview, Lemmen described a close friendship with Nassar and expressed a sentiment that the women filing complaints against him might be just misunderstanding his treatments.

“There is this accusation and it’s hard,” Lemmen told police, according to Michigan Radio. “This is a friend that is going through a crappy time. If he is guilty that is bad. We all sin. Some sins might be felt to be worse than others. I’m not that judge. I am still a friend... (Nassar) is one of those people that I tell him I love him."

Shortly after interviewing Lemmen, police interviewed Jeffrey Kovan, then-director of MSU Sports Medicine.

Koven said he first heard about the accusations against Nassar in 2014 when then-Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel put Nassar on temporary suspension.

Kovan said "we were livid" when MSU fired Nassar in 2016, and at the time they were learning about the protocols put in place for Nassar following the 2014 investigation.

Strampel now faces four charges in court, in part because of his failure to enforce or supervise those protocols. Other charges relate to allegations of sexual misconduct. Strampel was arraigned March 27 and awaits a preliminary exam.

According to Michigan Radio, the police report states Kovan said he was unsure if Nassar did anything wrong.

“Kovan stated that Nassar is a good person with a good core, who believes people are good," according to the report. "Kovan stated the procedure and the things Nassar stated Nassar was doing were intended for the right reasons. ... Kovan stated Nassar is too good of a person, with the right intentions, to end up in prison.”

Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in an Arizona federal prison for child pornography-related charges. Nassar has also been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in Ingham County and 40 to 125 years in Eaton County on first degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Both Lemmen and Kovan are defendants in some civil suits against Nassar and MSU. Kovan still works for MSU, according to MSU SportsMEDICINE's faculty page.

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