Parents of survivors react after agreement between MSU, federal government


EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — After Michigan State University reached an agreement with the United States Department of Health & Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, parents of survivors say more should be done.

The resolution agreement, announced Monday, requires MSU to make several changes to how it handles cases of sexual violence and misconduct. Those changes include:

  • Requiring MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity, which handles Title IX cases, to hire or engage a health care investigator. This investigator would handle all cases involving the MSU HealthTeam.
  • Requiring a chaperone (who is an authorized member of the health care team) to be present for all sensitive examinations involving patients ages 10-years and older. Consent must be given by the patient or patient’s parent/guardian prior to these types of examinations.
  • Requiring the Title IX coordinator to create and implement a Title IX training program for the MSU HealthTeam staff.

Valerie von Frank, whose daughter, Grace French, was abused by Nassar, says she and other parents of survivors are glad oversight of MSU will continue.

“I think the parents were really pleased to see that the Office of Civil Rights is going to continue monitoring MSU for the next three years,” she said.

The agreement with DHHS does not affect other federal investigations into MSU’s handling of the scandal.

6 News reached out to the U.S. Department of Education, who sent the following statement regarding the status of its investigations:

“The Department’s OCR and Clery investigations are ongoing but we expect them to come to a close in the near future.”

Liz Hill, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education

Roger Severino, the Director for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, says he hopes the agreement will help prevent another Nassar-type scandal.

“Doctors and hospitals should be places of healing and hope, not fear and abuse,” he said. “And I think this agreement, as well as all of the other legal actions that have taken place so far, is yet another step in making sure women and girls are protected by law, both in theory and in practice.”

But von Frank, who founded the group, Parents of Sister Survivors Engage, said more needs to be done, particularly when it comes to chaperones. She believes a chaperone should be present for all examinations involving children younger than 18-years-old.

von Frank also said the announced agreement would not have prevented Nassar from abusing women and girls.

“Larry Nassar never told us, as parents, that there was a sensitive procedure that involved the kinds of things that he did,” she said. “So we were not informed or asked for consent, which is what is being covered under these new guidelines.”

But when asked what would prevent another Nassar-type scandal, von Frank said, “Have people listen when victims report and speak up.”

Michigan State University released the following statement after the agreement was reached:

“We must always look for ways to do more for those who trust the university with their health and safety. The agreed-upon revisions recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights further enhance the many protection and policy improvements MSU has made since Nassar’s arrest, including:

-A chaperone policy established in April 2017 which requires chaperones for sensitive treatments and when minors are involved,
-A triage protocol to review all reported allegations or concerns of inappropriate practitioner-patient and practitioner-student interactions, and
-A consent to treat form reviewed during patient registrations.

We also plan to add new positions dedicated to investigating HealthTeam grievances and complaints, as well as train HealthTeam staff and ensure compliance.”

Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., MSU President

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