On January 24, after more than 100 survivors of former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar testified about his sexual abuse at sentencing hearings in Michigan, the embattled p resident of MSU Lou Anna K. Simon finally announced her resignation.
Since then, Simon has managed to maintain her exorbitant salary and a cushy office on campus. But the perks afforded to an enabler of one of the biggest sex abuse scandals in U.S. history might be drying up soon. On Tuesday, Simon was charged by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for lying to police about the Nassar investigation, according to the Lansing State Journal.
These charges stem from a 2014 MSU Title IX investigation into Nassar, when Amanda Thomashow, a patient and victim of Nassar’s, reported her abuser to the university. After an investigation — one in which doctors, hand-selected by Nassar, were allowed to serve as expert witnesses — MSU determined that Nassar’s sexual abuse was actually medically-acceptable treatment.
“The investigation left me feeling so small, and worthless and disposable, that I never saw what I was doing as brave,” Thomashow told CNN earlier this year. “I felt embarrassed. I humiliated myself by even talking about it.”
When Simon talked to police in May, she told them that she wasn’t aware about the nature of the complaint back in 2014 — that she only knew, in general terms, that there was a Title IX investigation into the behavior of a sports medicine doctor on campus. She has insisted she did not know that it was Nassar who was under investigation, and wasn’t aware of the nature of the complaints.
However, a police investigation has uncovered documents which directly contradict her statement.
“These documents show that Simon knew about the nature of the allegations against the sports medicine doc who was the subject to (sic) review in 2014, and contrary to her statements that she was not aware,” Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. William Arndt said at a hearing on Tuesday.
According to the Detroit News, the documents are from a meeting between Simon and Paulette Granberry Russell, a supervisor of the MSU Office of Inclusion, that took place about a month after Thomashow’s report.
Three days later, Russell and Simon had a meeting. Russell’s folder for the meeting, obtained by police, was labeled “Sports med Dr. Nassar SA.” SA stood for sexual assault, Russell told police.
“Russell also stated that she wrote the note because the incident was problematic for the university, which was then also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, and she wanted to remind herself for the meeting with Simon on Monday, May 19th,” Arndt said, according to court transcripts.
Inside the folder an agenda for the meeting listed “COM Incident” as item six, which Russell told police stood for College of Osteopathic Medicine and concerned the allegations against Nassar.
Simon’s own agenda for the meeting included an item related to sexual assault cases, and “next to that entry is a notation in Simon’s handwriting in quotes COM,” Arndt said Tuesday, according to court transcripts.
Nassar worked for USA Gymnastics for more than a year after Thomashow’s complaint, and he continued to work at Michigan State for more than two years, until the Indianapolis Star began reporting on Nassar’s abuse in September 2016.
He abused dozens of additional patients during this two-year period.
Simon worked at MSU her entire career, and served as president from 2005 though her resignation in January. When she was president, she was notorious for overseeing every aspect of the university — even the police chief and athletic director reported to her.
Simon’s lawyers have called the charges baseless.
“The only crime committed is the indictment. It is political and completely false and they will pay for it,” her attorney, Mayer Morganroth, told Lansing State Journal.
Simon is the third MSU official to face formal charges for their involvement in the Nassar case. William Strampel, former dean of osteopathic medicine and one of Nassar’s former bosses, faces two misdemeanor charges for his actions surrounding the 2014 Title IX investigation. And former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was charged with a felony and misdemeanor for lying to the police about her knowledge of Nassar’s abuse.
Simon’s arraignment is scheduled for Monday.