Monday, December 5, 2022

MSU medical resident pleads guilty to reduced charges of sexual assault

Editor's note: This article contains some sensitive descriptions.

Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine medical resident Michael Phinn pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault Tuesday in Ingham County.

Phinn pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of assault with the intent to commit sexual contact, unauthorized access to a computer and one count of using a computer to commit a crime.

He originally faced 26 charges of sexually assaulting two women and hacking into six Sparrow Health System employee emails to copy their private photos after being arrested in October 2018.

Phinn's original 26 felony charges included one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, five counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of gross indecency, one count of indecent exposure, six counts of unauthorized access to a computer, two counts of assault with the intent to commit sexual contact, four counts of aggravated indecent exposure and six counts of using a computer to commit a crime.

Those charges would put Phinn in prison for life. This plea deal reduces consequences to a maximum 15-year prison sentence, with a minimum sentence of three to almost six years.

He was serving a post-graduate neurology residency under supervision of MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine, or COM. He worked at Sparrow Hospital and the MSU Neurology Clinic.

Both women testified in January that Phinn used his fingers to penetrate their vaginas multiple times and groped their breasts underneath their bras, MSU Police Detective Sam Miller testified in a hearing that led to criminal charges being filed.

They both claimed that Phinn masturbated in front of them, sent unsolicited photos of his penis and groped them multiple times between June and December 2017, MSU Police Detective Sam Miller testified.

"I didn't want to go to work because every time I went to work, he was always at my desk," one witness told the judge. "I could not lose my job, I have two kids, I can't lose my job."

His medical license expired June 30. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said his license is active, but he was late on renewing it, according to online records obtained by the Lansing State Journal.

Both witnesses have sought therapy to deal with trauma inflicted on them by Phinn.

The second witness said Phinn massaged her shoulders, working his hands down to her breasts. He did not have permission to touch her.

When the witness attempted to get a lock for the door that connected her office to the exam room, she said her supervisor said it was unnecessary and she should put a file cabinet in front of the door, which she did.

Between August and September 2018, Phinn attempted to force his hand down her pants several times, the witness said.

Phinn had a bachelor’s degree in Physiology from Michigan State University and an D.O. from COM, according to a December 2017 archive of his MSU profile.

COM has been under scrutiny since the revelations of Larry Nassar’s abuse. Along with Nassar, Phinn is one of four COM-affiliated people who have been criminally charged in Ingham County since 2018.

Nassar's former boss, William Strampel, was convicted in June of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty for using his power as dean of the college to proposition and control female medical students. His sentencing is scheduled for August 8.

MSU physiology professor Robert Wiseman was convicted of failing to refund grant money and willful neglect of duty as a public officer.

Additionally, Ex-MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon’s preliminary hearing for lying to police about knowledge of 2014 Title IX investigations into COM relating to accusations of Nassar’s abuse ended recently.

Simon retired this week from her tenured faculty position, receiving a $2.34 million payout from the university.

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