Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Nessel: MSU still not cooperating with investigators

February 21, 2019
<p>Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during a press conference at the G. Mennen Williams Building in Lansing on Feb. 21, 2019.</p>

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during a press conference at the G. Mennen Williams Building in Lansing on Feb. 21, 2019.

Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

Attorney General Dana Nessel said Michigan State continues to stonewall investigators during a public update on her office’s investigation into the university's handling of Larry Nassar’s abuse on Thursday.

During the investigation — which began at the MSU Board of Trustees' request — the board promised its cooperation. But according to former head of the investigation Special Prosecutor William Forsyth, MSU has continually impeded justice.

In a December 2018 public update, Forsyth heavily used the word “stonewalling” to describe MSU’s noncompliance with investigators. MSU claimed attorney-client privilege on thousands of documents and refused to hand them over to the Attorney General’s office.

Nessel said MSU originally withheld an estimated 7,500 requested documents. The Attorney General's office went to 54B District Court where Judge Richard Ball reviewed the documents, after which the university handed over about 1,000 of them.

Ball determined that of the remaining documents, 177 were not privileged and should be handed over to the AG’s office. MSU argued 29 of those documents should be heavily redacted. 

Nessel said it is likely investigators will never review the 6,000 — if not more — other redacted documents.

After former Interim President John Engler resigned in January, the Attorney General's office announced its interest in interviewing him for the investigation. Engler’s attorneys have not agreed to an interview.

"He stepped up to become interim president,” Nessel said. “I think that when you do that, you take on the responsibility and the obligation to be open and transparent about the work of the university.”

Nessel also announced Thursday that her office has taken over the criminal investigation of John Geddert, a former USA Gymnastics coach and the founder of Twistars Gymnastics Club, where Nassar volunteered. The investigation had been led by the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office since last year.

Numerous Nassar survivors have come forward saying they were abused at Twistars, including U.S. Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney.

When asked if the Attorney General's office was investigating accusations of physical or sexual abuse at Twistars — as Geddert is accused of mistreating athletes himself — Nessel said nothing is off the table.

Nessel echoed what was said by the office in December: It’s time for MSU to step up and do the right thing.

“At this point this office has done everything we can to try and force the university to be as transparent as possible,” Nessel said. “There’s really only so much we can do without the university’s cooperation.”

Three individuals have already been charged in the investigation so far:

William Strampel

Strampel was the first person to be charged in the investigation and is the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, where Nassar worked. His charges include two counts of willful neglect of duty related to Nassar, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and a felony misconduct in office.

Kathie Klages

Former MSU Gymnastics coach Klages faces two charges of lying to a police officer about her knowledge of Nassar’s abuse.

Lou Anna K. Simon

Former MSU President Simon is the most recent person charged in the investigation. Simon’s charges include four counts of lying to investigators.

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