Sunday, July 5, 2020

Simon's preliminary exam to continue in July, judge says documents 'provide probable cause'

June 12, 2019
<p>Former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon during her preliminary examination at the Eaton County Courthouse on June 11, 2019. </p>

Former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon during her preliminary examination at the Eaton County Courthouse on June 11, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

The fifth day of Lou Anna K. Simon’s ongoing preliminary exam was in session Tuesday in Judge Julie Reincke’s courtroom. During the hearing, Reincke hinted that Simon's case could move to trial, saying, "I think (documents presented) provide probable cause that Dr. Simon knew what was going on."

Simon is accused of lying to police about her knowledge of complaints against ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. If it's determined that there's enough evidence in Simon's case, it could move to circuit court.

Marti Howe — a long-term executive staff assistant to Simon — testified that she wasn’t aware of the university having a permanent record of the agenda held by presidents. Howe said there was “probably” a permanent record held by the university and that Simon had full say on what went on the agenda. 

When questioned whether or not she kept all of the agenda records, she said, “Well, after a period of time, after all of the items were checked off, then I would dispose of the agendas."

Howe said that Simon had a full and “hectic” schedule, had drop-in appointments and weekly and monthly meetings with MSU officials. 

Assistant Attorney General Scott Teter emphasized the importance of these meetings, especially their frequency. He said the meetings with Paulette Granberry-Russell — Simon’s senior advisor — relating to sexual assault occurred monthly and over the phone, unlike most meetings held weekly and in person.

There was no mention of Larry Nassar as a topic of discussion within any of the agenda records made by Simon herself. However, Russell alleged writing Nassar’s last name along with “SA,” standing for sexual assault, on a folder and making it a point to mention it to Simon. 

The Defense got argumentative with Detective Sergeant William Arndt's testimony relating to Russell’s recollection from the May 19, 2014 meeting between her and Simon.

Arndt testified that he was certain that the May 14, 2014 file folder was brought up in discussion at the May 19, 2014 meeting between Simon and Russell.

Arndt testified that Russell recalled the reason behind the meeting had to do with the file folder.

Arndt’s recollection of Russell's testimony of her meeting with Simon on May 19 was that Russell couldn’t recall if the meeting was in person or if it was by phone.

Arndt said he interviewed over 100 individuals in this criminal investigation following Nassar’s abuse. He testified that the case was premature upon contacting Simon and that he didn’t view her as a sole suspect in the case, but as a starting point for the many interviews to come with MSU higher-ups and staff.

Arndt contacted Brian Quinn, acting MSU general counsel, to set up the interview with Simon. Arndt testified that the purpose of the investigation that followed Larry Nassar’s sentencing was to seek out any misconduct relating to Larry Nassar, as well as his former boss and dean of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel.

Arndt said he obtained the arrest warrant and the felony complaint in this case and testified on Nov. 20, 2018, which resulted in Reincke’s issuing the felony complaint.

The two felonies are a result of Simon allegedly lying to peace officers, claiming that she was unaware of Nassar’s abuse until 2016. 

“I don’t have any doubt that she (Simon) lied to us,” Arndt said.

Arndt testified that there was documentation that presented a contradiction in what Simon recalled relating to knowledge of Nassar. Simon received an email on May 16, 2014, stating that there was an incident with a sports medicine doctor within the College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Arndt says that it would have materially affected the investigation if Simon withheld knowledge of Nassar’s abuse before 2018, as alleged.

Lee Silver — Simon's defense attorney — objected to exhibit a transcript and video of Simon addressing the senate in June of 2018, claiming it's not relevant to the case. Judge Reincke determined it as relevant. 

“How can it possibly be relevant that she testifies consistently because, if you find it somehow relevant then it is impossible for Dr. Simon to win because if her testimony was inconsistent with what she told the Michigan State Police during her May 1, 2018 statement, they’re going to crucify her for lying and make a big deal out of that,” Silver said.

Simon’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Friday, July 12.

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