Monday, October 26, 2020

Ex-MSU president Simon arraigned on two felonies, two misdemeanors

November 26, 2018

Former Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon was arraigned Monday on four counts of lying to investigators about her knowledge of ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.

Before Judge Julie Reincke in Eaton County District Court, a probable cause conference was set for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Simon was released on a personal recognizance bond of $5,000, which means she does not have to pay anything. Reincke ordered Simon to turn over her passport.

According to court records Detective Sergeant William Arndt and Lt. Joseph Cavanaugh of the Michigan State Police interviewed Simon, asking her if she was aware of any prior investigation into Nassar’s misconduct before 2016.

"I was aware that in 2014 there was a sports medicine doc who was subject to a review," Simon said in the interview, according to court records.

Simon also said she was not aware of the nature of the complaint. Both of Simon's statement were false and misleading due to evidence collected, Arndt said in court records.

Simon’s charges include two felony charges and two misdemeanor charges, filed Nov. 20. According to a court affidavit, Simon lied to investigators about a 2014 investigation into Nassar's abuse.

The 2014 investigation stemmed from a report from Amanda Thomashow. She said Nassar had sexually assaulted her during an appointment at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic. This prompted a Title IX investigation into Nassar’s misconduct, during which Simon attended a meeting to discuss the case with Paulette Granberry Russell, former head of MSU's Title IX office and senior advisor to the president.

Documents in Simon’s handwriting from the meeting were obtained by Michigan State Police. Simon had an agenda entry on the day of the meeting with the notation “COM.” “COM” stands for College of Osteopathic Medicine, where Nassar worked. 

A folder from Russell containing the agenda for the meeting was also obtained by Michigan State Police. “SA” was written on the outside of the folder in Russell’s handwriting. According to Russell, the notation stands for “sexual assault.”

The court records said Simon impeded the criminal investigation into misconduct in office by public officials at MSU and the criminal investigation of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. 

The felonies associated with impeding the investigation into first-degree criminal sexual conduct each carry up to four years in prison and a possible $5,000 fine. The misdemeanors associated with impeding the investigation into misconduct in office by public officials each carry up to two years in prison with the possibility of a $5,000 fine.

MSU Spokesperson Emily Guerrant issued a statement Nov. 20 on Simon’s charges.

“We are aware of the charges brought today against former President Simon," Guerrant said in her statement. "She is taking an immediate leave of absence, without pay, to focus on her legal situation."

Lou Anna K. Simon resigned as president Jan. 24, the same day Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in Ingham County.

Mass distrust and public outcry preceded her resignation.

At the time, Simon released a letter to MSU’s Board of Trustees, and a few personally called for her resignation.

“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger." Simon said in her resignation letter, "I will continue to do whatever I can to help MSU prosper in the future as a Spartan in whatever role I may play.”

Simon remained at MSU in a research position until her recent leave absence.

Simon follows former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel and former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages as the third person charged in the Attorney General's Office's investigation into Michigan State’s handling of Nassar’s sexual misconduct.

Klages faces two charges of lying to a police officer during an investigation into MSU's handling of Nassar's abuse. One of her charges is a felony for the same reason as Simon.

Strampel’s charges include one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of willful neglect of duty related to Nassar and a felony misconduct in office.

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