Friday, June 5, 2020

'He was supposed to protect us, but he chose to betray us': Ex-MSU dean William Strampel's sentencing

August 7, 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

Former Dean of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel was sentenced Wednesday to one year in Ingham County Jail. Judge Joyce Draganchuk sentenced Strampel to one year in jail for each of two counts of willful neglect in relation to his role as ex-MSU Doctor Larry Nassar's boss and 11 months for his misconduct in the office felony.

Strampel was granted one day credit for each. He will serve his sentence concurrently. 

Judge Draganchuk asked Strampel if there was anything he wished to say before sentencing. Strampel responded with, “I don’t think it would benefit anything to drag this on any longer. I have nothing more to say than what my attorney has said.”

Strampel disappointed Draganchuk in how he declined to make a comment addressing the witnesses who came forward during the trial.

“It is a little disappointing to say the least that, you could do something, without admitting any criminal responsibility," Draganchuk said. "You could at least express sorrow for the impact that it’s had on these people that have testified at the trial and have partly spoken here today. You don’t have to admit criminal conduct to do that.”

Draganchuk spoke from experience, stating that an offender who acknowledges their past behavior has a faster rehabilitation period.

“So, it is very disappointing. One of the purposes of sentencing is reformation or rehabilitation of the offender and someone who can’t see anything wrong at all even to use the word inappropriate if you don’t want to use criminal," she said. "But someone who can’t see anything wrong at all in what they did has a longer road to reformation or rehabilitation than someone who, and there are plenty who appear in front of me and even ones that have gone through jury trial have gained some insight into their behavior.”

She emphasized Strampel's misconduct-in-office charge and tried to shift the focus of the sentencing away from sexual assault and toward what the jury found him guilty of.

“It can’t even be characterized as sexual harassment," she said. "You were not convicted of sexual harassment and that needs to be heard loud and clear. You were convicted for using your position as the dean of college of medicine to proposition, manipulate and, in my view, oppress women.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released a statement on Strampel's sentencing.

“Today’s sentencing sends a resoundingly clear message to public officials: If you brandish your power to demean, insult, harass, objectify and abuse women, you will be held accountable," Nessel said.

Draganchuk spoke fondly and on behalf of the women who came forward to testify against Strampel, saying that they all had things in common. 

“They were all bright, focused, driven, talented, ambitious women with dreams and goals and they all came to you," she said.

She mentioned Leah Jackson, who came to Strampel asking to stay in medical school. 

“Leah Jackson came to you with a dream and you squashed her and told her she wasn’t smart enough and that if she wanted to help people, she should go work in a soup kitchen," she said. "The only person that could grant her request to advance in medical school was you at that point.”

In her victim impact statement, Jackson said, "He (Strampel) was supposed to protect us, but he chose to betray us."

Draganchuk noted that Strampel’s position as dean gave him power over the decisions that would impact his students.

“These women didn’t come to you because they liked you, or they thought you were someone they take their troubles to," she said. "They came to you because they had to, because you were the dean, the decision maker over their academic careers."

“You didn’t have to say any of these things to them. If you didn’t think they could cut it in medical school and that was your purpose you could just said no. The fact that you wouldn’t just say yes or no is all the more telling. It tells us that you derived some sort of satisfaction using your position as the dean to manipulate and oppress these female students and that is more than sexual harassment, that’s more than inappropriate, that’s more than unfiltered locker room talk, that’s misconduct in office, a felony. The felony the jury found you guilty of. ”

Strampel’s wife was not in attendance at his sentencing Wednesday.

“My client requested that his wife not be present today," John Dakmak, Strampel's attorney, said. "Because, quite frankly, this is a devastating day for the Strampel family. But he does have a sentence that must be meted out and he does have to answer to for what the jury convicted him of.”

Strampel is to pay $130 to the crime victims fund, $168 in state costs and $600 in state court administrative office fees.

“We appreciate the court’s decision and commitment to ensuring justice in this case was served. While Mr. Strampel’s sentence will never give back the years of pain and suffering his victims had to endure, the persistence of these courageous survivors made certain that he could no longer hide behind the title he once held to escape the reach of justice,” Nessel said.

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