The Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal has now more fully ensnared Michigan State University, where the disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor — who has admitted to abusing multiple women and girls in his care — worked for two decades.
In a scathing press conference on Saturday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is running for governor, said, “It is abundantly clear that a full and complete investigation of what happened at Michigan State University from the president’s office down, is required.” The probe will seek to uncover “who knew what and when, who took action, who failed to take action,” Schuette said.
He added that, “No individual and no department at Michigan State University is off-limits.”
The scandal has already enveloped and toppled some of those in Nassar’s sphere with dizzying speed.
On Wednesday, hours after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, MSU President Lou Anna Simon announced she is stepping down. Two days later, the school’s athletic director announced his retirement. That same day, the entire board of USA Gymnastics said they too would resign.
And yet the dozens of women and girls who accuse Nassar of abuse say that a culture of fear, silence and permissiveness allowed the molestation to go on for far too long.
Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney wrote in a victim impact statement that Nassar began molesting her at the age of 13 or 14 and didn’t stop until she left the sport at age 20.
“How could Larry Nassar have been allowed to assault so many women and girls for more than two decades?” she wrote.
“The answer to that question lies in the failure of not one, but three major institutions to stop him — with Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee.”
In 2014, Nassar was the subject of an MSU sexual assault investigation, after a woman brought a complaint against him. The school reportedly told the woman that his treatments were not sexual. And yet an unredacted version of MSU’s report found that Nassar’s behavior was “frankly troubling,” reports Michigan Radio. Still, the school permitted him to stay on and continue treating patients, albeit with a nurse in the room, until 2016 when numerous accusations against him were made public. Several women say they were assaulted after his 2014 reinstatement.
Maroney was among more than 150 women and girls who testified against Nassar. Schuette said it was their leadership and courage that “opened the eyes of the world to the horrific sexual predator at MSU named Larry Nassar.”
Caitlin DeLuca, a senior at the University, told Michigan Radio’s Rebecca Kruth that anger has been widespread across campus this week, with the ire largely aimed at administrators.
“The way that it’s been handled from the top down has let so many students down,” DeLuca said. “And it’s made us lose complete confidence and faith in our administration and in our university.”
The MSU Board of Trustees had asked Schuette to investigate. In a letter last week quoted in The Lansing State Journal, the board said the university believes, “The evidence will show that no MSU official believed Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in late summer 2016.”
On Saturday, Schuette said he doesn’t want to hear from board members.
“Frankly they should be the last ones providing advice, given their conduct throughout the entire episode.”
Now board members themselves are fielding calls to step down.