Sunday, September 27, 2020

Additional charge assigned, evidence admitted in Strampel's case

April 12, 2019
Former MSU dean William Strampel sits during his preliminary hearing  on June 5, 2018 at the 54B District Court. Strampel is charged with four criminal charges including a fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge and a felony count of misconduct in office.
Former MSU dean William Strampel sits during his preliminary hearing on June 5, 2018 at the 54B District Court. Strampel is charged with four criminal charges including a fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge and a felony count of misconduct in office. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

An additional felony was charged and additional information was admitted on Friday in the criminal case against former Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel.

Strampel is now facing an additional count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct on top of four other charges. Before Friday, Strampel faced two charges of willful neglect of duty, one charge of misconduct in office and a felony charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Strampel is Larry Nassar's former boss. His charges of neglect stem from the knowledge Strampel allegedly had of Nassar's abuse. The second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge was added on the basis of the June 2018 testimony of three women who said Strampel sexually assaulted and harassed them.

Judge Joyce Draganchuk allowed prosecutors to bring the additional charge.

Strampel's defense was granted the release of two MSU emails the defense believes can be useful in his trial. The emails had been argued to have been protected by attorney-client privilege, the same defense that has kept the Attorney General's office from receiving hundreds of documents from MSU in its investigation into the university's response to Nassar's abuse.

The judge allowed the Attorney General's office to admit five photos found on Strampel's work computer of women naked from neck to thigh. MSU apparel is visible in the photos, suggesting those pictured were MSU students, the prosecution has asserted since a preliminary examination in 2018.

Strampel's attorney John Dakmak said there is not enough evidence to prove the women pictured are students.

"We have photographs from unknown women, of unknown age. We don't know if they're students; we don't who they are," Dakmak said. "Many of us go to East Lansing on a Saturday afternoon and we're all wearing green. I'm 48 years old; I'm not a student, but I can wear my MSU t-shirt."

A student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine testified in June 2018 that Strampel implied he wanted her to send him naked photos. He allegedly told her she would be in trouble if he ever saw a naked photo of her and said women have to "put out" for 20 minutes to get a vacation.

Three women testified against Strampel in June 2018, saying he sexually harassed and assaulted them. They were MSU students and coworkers of Strampel's, each with similar stories of how he abused his power over them.

All five photographs were admitted in support of allegations that Strampel propositioned female students for nude photographs in return for allowing them to graduate. Draganchuk said the photos may clarify whether Strampel was in the habit of receiving nude photos, regardless if the women pictured are students.

A video of Larry Nassar sexually assaulting a young woman was also found on Strampel's computer. The prosecution argued the video proves Strampel, who put procedures in place for Nassar to see patients after a 2014 Title IX investigation into his misconduct, failed at implementing those procedures.

Draganchuk refused to admit the video as evidence, saying that without knowing if Strampel had seen it and knowing that Nassar hadn't followed his guidelines, it served no purpose in this case. She went on to say the video would inflame the passions of the jury, conflating Nassar's actions with those of Strampel.

The video shows violations to the protocols put in place after the Title IX investigation, such as requirements for Nassar to wear gloves and have someone else in the room. The investigation, which cleared Nassar of misconduct, stemmed from Amanda Thomashow's 2014 complaint against Nassar that he sexually assaulted her at an appointment.

The prosecution did not say exactly when the video was allegedly first seen by Strampel, but that it was sent to him in late August 2016 and seen days later. This would be days before Nassar was relieved of his duties at MSU.

Draganchuk expressed her disgust at the video, which she watched to conclude whether it should be admitted as evidence. She asked the prosecution to take away the thumb drive holding the video because she did not want it in her possession.

Strampel is scheduled to go to trial May 28.

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