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MSU agrees to Title IX reform with federal civil rights office

August 12, 2019
<p>The Spartan Statue photographed on May 15, 2019.</p>

The Spartan Statue photographed on May 15, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, announced on Monday that they entered into a voluntary resolution agreement with Michigan State and related entities, resolving a civil rights investigation related to Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of gymnasts and others while employed by MSU, according to a press release.

MSU Health Care and MSU Health Team are also included in the agreement, with 260 physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants across more than 40 clinics.

OCR initiated a compliance review of MSU entities after federal and state criminal investigations of Nassar found that he had sexually abused hundreds of women and girls under his care over decades. 

Former College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean William Strampel was convicted of felony misconduct in June and was sentenced to one year in jail, which stems from a charge that he used his public office to sexually harass students. Strampel was also convicted of willfully neglecting to monitor Nassar after an earlier investigation. 

On Aug. 1, College of Osteopathic Medicine medical resident Michael Phinn pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault

“OCR’s remedy is appropriate and effective in light of their gross misconduct,” OCR's release said.

In the 19-page agreement, MSU agreed to revise non-discrimination and sexual misconduct policies to clarify Title IX’s and Section 1557’s prohibitions on sex discrimination.

They also agreed to improve their investigative and complaint resolution processes and to designate an official to coordinate the response to those complaints.

For medical practitioners, the agreement includes a chaperone policy, which requires an authorized medical staff member to be present at sensitive medical examinations. Patients can also request chaperones according to sex.

The agreement also includes multiple measures to maximize patient privacy when a sensitive examination takes place. Practitioners also agreed to conduct all-staff training and to provide bi-annual reports to OCR during the three-year term of the agreement.

“While Nassar and the dean who oversaw him have been rightly convicted of crimes, the institutional reforms that MSU has agreed to undertake will help ensure that no patient is ever victimized like this again," Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights said in a statement.

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