Detective admits lack of documented proof Simon knew of Nassar in 2014

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CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WLNS) — A Michigan State Police detective admitted under cross-examination he was not aware of any documents given to former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon which prove Simon knew about Larry Nassar in 2014.

Detective/Lieutenant Joseph Cavanaugh spent roughly five hours on the stand Friday, during day six of former Simon’s preliminary exam. Prosecutors are trying to prove there’s enough evidence to send Simon to trial on charges of lying to police during their investigation into MSU’s handling of the Nassar case.

>>Day five recap>>Day four recap>>Day three recap>>Day two recap>>Day one recap, including case background

Simon is charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors in the case. She told police she knew a sports medicine doctor was under investigation in 2014, but did not know it was Nassar specifically. Prosecutors say that was a lie.

During direct examination by Assistant Attorney General Scott Teter, Cavanaugh said he had no doubt in his mind Simon lied to him during the May 2018 interview.

When asked why he believed that, Cavanaugh said “Because I believe, the more information we were not told about and [was] withheld from us, the less the hit to the university would be.”

Cavanaugh also said Simon did not volunteer certain information during the interview, such as if there were documents from the time surrounding Amanda Thomashow’s 2014 Title IX complaint against Nassar. He also testified Simon did not say who told her about the “incident involving a sports medicine” doctor that she said she was informed of in 2014.

However, under cross-examination by Simon’s attorney, Lee Silver, Cavanaugh admitted neither he, nor Detective/Sergeant William Arndt, to asked numerous follow-up questions that may have led to those answers.

“Why wouldn’t you ask these types of questions if it was important for you to know this stuff?” Silver asked.

“There were lots of questions that we had. Unfortunately, the follow-up question was never asked as to who this person, who this staff person was. It was unfortunately missed by myself and Detective/Sergeant Arndt,” Cavanaugh said.

“So you would agree with me that that was a miss, or a mistake by you and Arndt?” Silver asked.

“Sure,” Cavanaugh replied.

Silver also grilled Cavanaugh about if Simon was told at the May 2018 interview that he and Arndt were conducting a criminal investigation. Cavanaugh said he informed her of this, however it was before he began recording the interview. It is not documented in transcripts of the interview or the report that Simon was informed the interview was part of a criminal investigation.

When asked why he did not record this part, Cavanaugh said, “It was something Det./Sgt. Arndt and I had done in our introductions to the person we were interviewing. Right, wrong, indifferent, that’s the way we did it.”

Following an interview with MSU Provost June Youatt, however, there was a note in the report which stated Youatt was informed of the criminal investigation.

“Can you explain to me why, if you informed Youatt and Simon that you were conducting a criminal investigation, you would note it in the report of the Youatt interview, but not Dr. Simon?” Silver asked.

“I have no explanation, other than it didn’t get there,” Cavanaugh replied.

Cavanaugh was also asked about the documents police and prosecutors say prove Simon’s former senior advisor, Paulette Granberry Russell, told Simon about Nassar specifically in 2014.

Nassar’s name, while appearing on a note Granberry Russell prepared for herself for a May 2014 meeting, did not appear on any of the materials given to Simon. Nassar was also not mentioned by name in an email between Granberry Russell and Simon prior to the meeting.

“Is there any other document that you believe has the name Larry Nassar on it that you are aware of that was given to Lou Anna Simon in 2014?” Silver asked.

“I would say no,” Cavanaugh replied.

However, Cavanaugh says he believes Granberry Russell mentioned Nassar by name to Simon during this meeting. Granberry Russell testified in April she did not recall telling Simon about Nassar specifically in 2014, nor does she recall telling Simon about the allegations against Nassar that year.

Prior to Cavanaugh’s testimony, MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam took the stand. Mosallam testified Simon was part of discussions about Nassar following the 2016 Indianapolis Star article which detailed the allegations against him. Mosallam said Simon was also part of board discussions regarding settling lawsuits filed by victims up until she resigned as president in January 2018.

Mosallam also testified he did not know anything about Nassar prior to the IndyStar article.

Testimony in Simon’s preliminary exam will resume July 23.

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