Former MSU dean faces new allegations in Nassar fallout

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Dr. William Strampel, the former dean of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University, is facing more scrutiny after a recent Wall Street Journal article.

That article, published Monday, reveals student accounts of how Strampel handled allegations of inappropriate behavior and abuse at the university.

Strampel led the College of Osteopathic Medicine for 15 years before stepping down in December of 2017 citing health reasons.

He’s also Nassar’s former boss who continues to come under fire for how he handled a Title IX investigation against Nassar.

Documents show that the MSU Official of Institutional Equity knowingly produced two very different versions of the report, which ultimately cleared Nassar of any wrongdoing.

Critics say it also helped pave the way for Nassar to continue sexually abusing his patients and according to lawsuits, almost 30 women and girls said they were assaulted after that report was made.

Those women are among the more than 250 part of a massive civil lawsuit which names MSU, USA Gymnastics and several other people and institutions that worked with Nassar.

6 News obtained the pages of documents cited in the WSJ report, which was authored by an MSU student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The student details some of the comments Strampel allegedly made to university staff and students during an October 2016 meeting, which took place shortly after Nassar was fired by MSU.

During this time, a growing number of women were coming forward about Nassar’s abuse by reporting it to MSU Police.

In this meeting between MSU students and staff, the topic of discussion was centered on two students, a male and female, who had been dating.

The male student had been suspended for allegedly engaging in an abusive relationship with the female.

Documents allege that Strampel began showing more concern for the accused male student and his rights saying the situation looked “pretty fishy,” accusing the students of “ganging up” on him.

Students who were in that meeting detailed several comments made by Strampel including his response to moving the accused to a different campus for safety concerns.

At one point, three people in the meeting accused Strampel prioritizing the accused male student’s rights over that of the alleged victims.

“Well, I have to think about his rights too,” Strampel allegedly replied. “By the way, I don’t think he’s violent. I spoke to him for a long time and I don’t think he’s violent.”

According to student accounts, Strampel went on to say that he didn’t think the accused male was a threat to anyone.

“This just goes to show you that none of you learned the most basic lesson of medicine, medicine 101, that you should have learned in your first week,” Strampel alleged said. “Don’t trust your patients. Patients lie to get doctors in trouble. And we’re seeing that right now in the news with this Nassar stuff. I don’t think any of these women were actually assaulted by Larry, but Larry didn’t learn that lesson and didn’t have a chaperone in the room, so now they see an opening and they can take advantage of him.”

Strampel is also accused of saying that even though he didn’t want to fire Nassar, he had to.

A self-evaluation of Strampels annual performance review, obtained by 6 News through the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Strampel even credited himself for the way he responded to the Nassar scandal while trying to juggle his leadership role as dean. 

6 News reached out to Strampel’s attorney and MSU for comment, but did not hear back.

As part of its investigation into MSU’s handling of Nassar, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office requested several of Strampel’s belongings including his work cell phone and computer.

A month later in February, MSU Interim President John Engler said the university is taking steps to fire Strampel for failing to make sure Nassar was following the proper protocols put in place as a result of the 2014 Title IX investigation.

However, it’s a process that’s far from simple since Strampel is tenured faculty.

Nassar is currently in Arizona serving his 60-year federal prison sentence for admitting to possessing child pornography. He faces an additional 40 to 175 years after pleading guilty to sexually abusing young women and girls who came to him for medical treatment.

Before Nassar was sentenced in both Ingham and Eaton Counties, hundreds of women and girls gave victim impact statements; Rachael Denhollander, the first to come forward about Nassar’s abuse, was the last to speak.

While she’s being hailed a hero now, it was anything but that back in 2016 when she said Strampel mocked her for bringing allegations of sexual assault against Nassar.

On Monday, Denhollander reacted to the details of the Wall Street Journal report saying:

“Dean Strampel’s comments are abhorrent and yet another example of the incredible culture of abuse at MSU,” she said. “Survivors not being listened to, being attacked, and being lied about, is a pattern at MSU and it remains a pattern, right up to the highest leaders in the school.  It is inexcusable. It puts everyone on that campus at risks, and it continues to harm the survivors.”

You can read her full statement below.

In its article, the Wall Street Journal said it reviewed Strampel’s personnel file which included both complaints and praises of Strampel made by current and former students and staff.

It said Strampel had been accused of his “disregard for women, inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, and lack of appropriate oversight.”

However, in the personnel file 6 News obtained a few months ago, no such information was provided. It instead, included rave reviews for Strampel’s leadership skills and success.

The WSJ also highlights a separate letter that was written by several students who participated in a spring introductory course taught by Strampel in 2005.

The journal said the letter was shared with an MSU faculty member who they said characterized the incident as an “assault” and encouraged them to share the letter with both law enforcement and the media.

According to that letter, obtained by 6 News, student said a requirement upon graduation is completing the final exam which consists of a student “successfully performing a physical on a model or another student as decided by the small group instructor.”

Students allege that Strampel asked one of his students to perform a rectal exam on him. [Strampel]

After the student agreed, the pair went into another room where the rectal exam was allegedly performed.

Students said this goes against the class syllabus, which says students can only perform these practice exams on models hired by the university.

Students also describe another incident that took place in 2008 with 151 students present.

During that class, Strampel allegedly “made an offer to allow anyone to perform a rectal exam on him for a price of $50,000.”

 
Rachael Denhollanders full statement: 
 
“Dean Strampel’s comments are abhorrent and yet another example of the incredible culture of abuse at MSU.  Not only his disgusting attitude towards victims, but the fact that he also had multiple warnings in his personnel file about disregard for women, inappropriate behavior and a lack of appropriate oversight, and yet no one ever addressed these concerns.
 
At the same time, this should be no surprise to anyone who has followed what’s happened at MSU. Strampel told students we were “taking advantage of Larry”, but Board of Trustee members publicly accused survivors of being ambulance chasers looking for a payday. In fact, President Engler himself lied about survivors to the Senate just a few days ago, claiming our legislations stalled mediation and that it was drafted by attorneys looking for leverage, when in fact MSU has refused to reply to requests for mediation dates and the legislation was brought forward by me and another survivor.
 
Strampel clearly didn’t believe female patients should have a voice, but MSU spokesman Truscott stated four days ago that it was “inappropriate” for me to express concern over Engler’s personal lobbying against legislation to protect Michigan’s children because I was talking about “something they know nothing about”.  Survivors not being listened to, being attacked, and being lied about, is a pattern at MSU and it remains a pattern, right up to the highest leaders in the school.  It is inexcusable. It puts everyone on that campus at risks, and it continues to harm the survivors.”

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