Strampel trial shifts focus to Nassar
After four days of testimony from witnesses who allege that William Strampel, former dean of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM), had mismanaged his position for sexual gain, the focus of the trial shifted on Thursday to his alleged mishandling of disgraced former MSU doctor Larry Nassar.
Dr. Suresh Mukherji, one of Strampel’s former COM underlings, testified that Strampel told him Nassar had agreed to three requirements to continue seeing patients after a 2014 Title IX investigation cleared Nassar of sexual abuse he was later found to have committed.
These three requirements — for Nassar to have someone else in the room, use gloves and get informed consent before invasive procedures — were considered rudimentary and Mukherji testified on Thursday that Strampel never followed up to make sure Nassar was actually following through on any of those procedures.
Strampel faces two felonies, including a count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two misdemeanors related to his role as Nassar’s superior.
Mukherji said he wasn’t sure of the allegations against Nassar at the time because Strampel never shared them with him. He only found out the extent of the allegations in 2016, when Nassar was suspended after an Indianapolis Star article revealed his abuse. Mukherji said Strampel immediately moved for the suspension, but there was no prolonged conversation about it.
Kristine Moore, whose Title IX investigation in 2014 cleared Nassar, testified later Thursday. She is also a key witness in the case of former MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon, who faces two counts of lying to peace officers, and reiterated much of her April testimony. Moore says after she conducted the investigation she specifically recommended to Strampel the requirements he later placed on Nassar, but did not include the requirement to wear gloves during invasive procedures.
When Moore received a June 20, 2014 email from Nassar stating his intention to return to work July 1, she said she was alarmed because she had yet to complete her investigation and forwarded the email to Strampel — who eventually made the decision to allow Nassar to return to work.
After being asked by defense attorney John Dakmak, Moore admitted she has seen an e-mail between Strampel and Theresa Kelley, from MSU’s Office of General Counsel, where Kelley told Strampel it was OK for Nassar to return to work. Moore said she did not know such an e-mail existed back when she was conducting her investigation.
The state’s attorney is charged with proving Strampel knowingly and willfully neglected his duty to keep patients safe when he allowed Nassar to return to work, not simply that he made an error in judgment.
The trial will continue in Judge Joyce Draganchuk’s courtroom at 8:30 a.m. Friday.