Sunday, May 31, 2020

Witness says Strampel provoked concerning survey responses

June 4, 2019
<p>Defense attorney John Dakmak questions Dr. Nicole Eastman during the trial of Dr. William Strampel, former dean of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, at the Ingham County Circuit Court on June 4, 2019.</p>

Defense attorney John Dakmak questions Dr. Nicole Eastman during the trial of Dr. William Strampel, former dean of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, at the Ingham County Circuit Court on June 4, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

A witness testified Tuesday, at the fourth day of William Strampel's trial, that it was “rare" for Strampel, former dean of Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM), to not say sexually inappropriate comments within professional meetings.

Strampel is facing two felony counts, including second-degree sexual misconduct as well as two misdemeanors in relation to his possible knowledge about Larry Nassar's abuse.

An anonymous survey conducted by the college advisory council to evaluate the dean’s leadership position drew approximately 15 responses, which Dr. Margaret Kingry, who was a member of the college advisory council in 2015, said were of concern. The survey was given to selected faculty members and students within COM. 

The responses from the survey were kept anonymous. The feedback later circulated within the committee. Kingry said, after examining the different possible meanings behind the comments, that she reached out to the provost's office because she felt the committee didn’t have the means to pursue seeing it through at the time.

Dr. Nicole Eastman also alleged that Strampel groped her during a Gala in Feb. 2010. She said she turned around immediately after he groped her buttock. She said she saw Strampel standing “two feet at most” away from her.

Eastman’s husband, Timothy Eastman, testified that he was at the Gala during the alleged incident and that his wife had told him about it. They did not take any action to make a report with the police or the university at the time of the incident. 

It wasn’t until later that Nicole Eastman made a report with Michigan State Police in 2018 after Rachel Denhollander encouraged her to do so.  

Alison Perkins' first encounter with Strampel was during a meeting to discuss her progress at MSU. Perkins claims that Strampel advised her that she would benefit from being a "life skills model" and that it would better her odds of getting into COM.

Strampel later hired Perkins as a life skills model, and she alleged that Strampel performed what he told her was a full breast and pelvic exam on her and that Strampel did not explain the maneuvers behind the procedure fully. Perkins said that she felt that it was “really strange.” She added that during the "exam," he made eye contact. 

Perkins said Strampel paid her directly for being a life skills model, and she recalls getting paid between $100 and $120 after the sessions.

“I felt like I would potentially be put into a position where I would be asked to do more," Perkins said when asked why she never applied to COM.

Strampel greeted every incoming COM class with a speech known as the “I’m not your father speech.” Kari Hortos, associate dean for southeast Michigan at the College of Osteopathic Medicine and chief academic officer, said that this speech concerned her over the years.

The speech emphasized the responsibilities that COM students face by becoming future physicians that extend into their private lives as well.

“To be aware that you are being watched 24/7 and that you will be held accountable. The ‘he’s not your father’ portion of that really was more along the line of 'your father can forgive you for whatever you choose to do in your life but I am the dean of the school, and I'm going to hold you accountable,'” Hortos said.

“I can tell you that through the years that I’ve listened to this, earlier years that would be met with laughter and that sort of thing and then as we proceeded there was not that same enjoyment by the student,” she said.

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