EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Amid calls for her to step down, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon apologized to victims of former MSU doctor Larry Nassar during the MSU Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning.
“I’m truly sorry for the abuse you’ve suffered, the pain it’s caused and the pain it continues to cause today,” Simon said. “I’m sorry a physician who called himself a Spartan so utterly betrayed your trust and everything the university stands for.”
Simon was also offered, but declined a raise of $150,000. She requested it be donated to the Drs. Lou Anna K. and Roy J. Simon scholarship fund.
Each of the trustees made comments regarding Nassar during the meeting; Some of them speaking directly to Nassars accusers.
“I want you to know that I am listening, I care, I’ve read your victim statements,” Trustee Dianne Byrum said. “I am absolutely committed to change the systems that embolden a sexual predator like Larry Nassar to exist.”
Trustee Mitch Lyons said he wishes he had a perfect handbook on how to handle this situation.
“I can absolutely 100 percent tell you that myself and any member of this board would put the victims ahead of the brand or the reputation of this university,” Lyons said.
Chairman Brian Breslin announced that MSU has created a $10 million fund that will be used for counseling and mental health services for victims of Nassar.
“Our hope has been and continues to be a fair and just resolution,” he said. “What we can say emphatically is that it is simply not true that there has been any kind of cover up.”
Student leaders also weighed in, saying that while they have faith in the university, they want it to accept responsibility where it’s appropriate.
“It seems highly unlikely that during years of continuous sexual assault by the same predator, no one spoke up, individuals on team MSU made a choice to not believe the victims and should be held responsible,” MSU Student Body President Lorenzo Santavicca said.
Three women who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar spoke to the MSU Board of Trustees face to face for the first time since this scandal came to light in 2016.
During emotional speeches, each of them wanted to let MSU know how this past year has been for them, adding that they’re counting on MSU and its leaders to help them through their healing process.
“Would you had apologized had we not all showed up today? Until today, we had not received any offer or counseling from the university, no one from MSU has ever reached out to me or any other victim to my knowledge to ask how we are or even offer a kind word,” Kaylee Lorincz said. “You can never imagine how this betrayal by Nassar and MSU has affected me but let me help you to try.”
Lorincz is among the 140 women and girls who say Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment.
Speaking in front of leaders at Michigan State University, she painted an emotional picture of how this past year has been.
“I can’t sleep, I don’t trust and I have a difficult time making friends,” she said. “I even blame my parents for something they had no control over.”
Lorincz’s mother, Lisa Lorincz also spoke.
“Beginning in the late 1990’s, there were at least seven girls who reported Nassar’s abuse to either coaches or trainers and nothing happened,” she said. “As a 25 year educator myself, if a young person had come to me with such an allegation, I would have reported it immediately.”
Larissa Boyce, a victim of Nassar, told former MSU Gymnastics Coach Kathie Klages about the abuse in the ’90’s. Klages retired, one day after being suspended earlier this year for how she handled an incident related to Nassar when allegations began to surface.
“Why is it that while I’m fighting for your campus, that you’re off celebrating sports and financial gains?” Jessica Smith said.
Smith, another victim of Nassar, started the social media movement #MeTooMSU.
Smith called on MSU to take action.
“MSU continually denies the past, is on the road to denying the present and in doing so is denying me and others of our future and our ability to heal,” she said. “What I need is integrity and this starts with taking responsibility for those who were hurt under your control.”
He was sentenced to 60 years in the federal child pornography case earlier this month.
During the board of trustees meeting Friday morning, several people, wearing MeTooMSU shirts, stood with signs the entire meeting.
Those who addressed the board, called for an independent investigation into MSU’s handling of Nassar.
“What we as students, advocates and survivors want is transparency and accountability from this administration,” one woman said. “What we need from this university is an external investigation after litigation done through third parties such as the Attorney General of Michigan, Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the U.S. Dept. of Justice.”
William Strampel, the dean of Osteopathic Medicine at MSU, stepped down from his administrative role at the university on Thursday.
MSU said Strampel is going on medical leave, citing health reasons. While he will no longer be the dean, he will remain part of MSU’s faculty.
The university says the only time it was made aware of a complaint against Nassar was in 2014, after a patient raised concerns about the treatment she received by Nassar.
Jason Cody, a spokesperson for the university, says MSU investigated the incident
As a result of that investigation, in July 2014, Strampel, emailed Nassar saying the following:
– “We will have another person, (resident, nurse, etc.) in the room whenever we are approaching a patient to perform procedures of anything close to a sensitive area.
– The procedure which caused the patient emotional distress because of her interpretation will be modified in the future to be sure that there is little to no skin to skin contact when in these regions. Should this be absolutely necessary, the procedure will be explained in detail with another person in the room for both the explanation and the procedure
– New people in our practice will be oriented to be sure they understand these requirements.
Cody said that when Nassar was given those guidelines, put into place by his supervisor in 2014, he was expected to follow them.
Cody said when the university found out in September 2016 that Nassar didn’t follow those guidelines, MSU fired him.
A woman who worked at a practice with Nassar said she wasn’t informed about restrictions placed upon him by MSU.
The woman, who spoke to 6 News anonymously, said she was never told that someone needed to be in the room with Nassar while he was performing intimate procedures, as required in a 2014 letter from the dean.
Following Friday’s trustees meeting, Simon sent out a letter to the MSU community. To view it, click here.