Witness claims Strampel groped her at scholarship banquet
A witness testified Monday that former dean of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) William Strampel groped her during a scholarship banquet and told her during academic meetings to “dress sexier” and “to be more submissive to men.”
Jessica Neuroth, a former COM student, said Strampel made sexual comments at a meeting held after she failed a class.
Strampel faces two felony counts, including second-degree criminal sexual conduct, as well as two misdemeanors in relation to a possible mishandling of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. Several Nassar survivors, including Kaylee Lorincz, were present for court proceedings.
“I hold your entire future in my hands, and I can do with it whatever I want,” Dr. Neuroth said Strampel told her and a group of students who had failed a class.
She alleged — during a photo opportunity where she won a scholarship — Strampel groped her left buttock. She said she felt it would be imprudent to report this incident since Strampel had warned her of the power he possessed over her future.
When pressed by defense attorney John Dakmak, Dr. Neuroth said she was not aware at the time of the university’s Office of Institutional Equity or Title IX compliance department. She had previously filed a sexual harassment complaint against another professor during her time as an undergraduate student through an end-of-semester review survey.
At a third meeting — after Dr. Neuroth had complained about an incident where she says an unnamed female surgical tech slapped her and cursed at her while participating in clinical rotations — she alleges that Strampel asked her to turn around for him twice before sitting down.
“Dean Strampel started out by telling me, ‘What do I need to do to teach you to be submissive and subordinate to men?’” Dr. Neuroth said in her testimony.
She also said at a luncheon, in which Strampel’s wife was present, that he looked her up and down from chest to crotch. When she admonished him for it, he said, “eye candy is eye candy.”
Dr. Neuroth told a friend about these incidents but did not go to police or university officials with the information until Michigan State Police contacted her in February 2018 after the investigation into Strampel had begun, and he had already resigned his position.
Earlier Monday, Dr. Priyanka Pandey testified that while she was a COM student, Strampel offered her a contract to retake a class she had failed but warned her not to tell anyone about the contract. Otherwise, he would ruin her reputation by telling faculty and peers that the two were having a sexual relationship.
Strampel also allegedly asked if she had considered becoming a centerfold model and told her a story of another student who was performing as an exotic dancer to help pay her way through medical school.
She says she brought letters of recommendation from her professors and evidence of increased academic success detailing her potential as a student, but Strampel ignored her prepared notes and talked instead about personal and crude matters.
Dr. Pandey says she told a COM counselor about the incident and was told she could file a Title IX complaint, but she didn’t feel she was in a position to do so because Strampel had done her a favor by allowing her to retake the class without sitting out an entire year of school.
However, she says she was so disturbed by the sexual content of that meeting that — when she met with Strampel in May 2015 over the failure of an exam necessary to continue in the university — she recorded the interaction on her phone.
This recording was played Monday for the Court with Strampel audibly telling her “I own you now” when he agreed to reinstate her, which Dr. Pandey said she interpreted as being of a sexual nature.
Dr. Pandey, when contacted by Michigan State Police last year, initially told investigators that she thought the sexual comments would be on this recording but she had not listened to it in years. Dakmak pressed her to explain this discrepancy, and she said she was initially mistaken as to the timing of the comments, but that they had indeed happened during the first meeting in May 2014.
Strampel’s trial will continue Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.