This story has been updated with MSU’s response.
A status report by a prosecutor looking into Michigan State University’s handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal says 11 MSU employees failed to report Nassar’s abuse.
It’s one of several findings that says MSU also didn’t live up to a promise to support the investigation, saying the university “stonewalls the very investigation it pledged to support.”
The investigation, led by former Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth, has resulted in criminal charges against three people: former MSU President Lou Anna Simon, former dean William Strampel, and former gymnastics coach Kathy Klages.
Larry Nassar has been accused of sexually abusing hundreds of women under the guise of treatment over the span of two decades. He was a prominent doctor at Michigan State University and with USA Gymnastics.
He ended up pleading guilty to abusing a handful of women in Ingham and Eaton counties, for which he was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years. He’s currently serving a 60 year federal sentence for child porn charges.
Forsyth says his investigators talked to almost 550 people, including more than 280 survivors, and that Larry Nassar was among the first.
He says his team has also reviewed 150,000 documents totaling 500,000 pages. But he also says much of the data provided by MSU was worthless. He also says attorneys for MSU sat in on interviews with employees and prevented them from answering some questions.
“I think their biggest concern was protecting the reputation of the university,” he said.
Forsyth also said in his report that the university issued “misleading public statements” – waged “needless battles over pertinent documents” – and “asserting attorney-client privilege even when it did not apply.”
“Both then and now, MSU has fostered a culture of indifference toward sexual assault, motivated by its desire to protect its reputation,” the report says.
The report, which is an update and not a final report, also says the culture at MSU played into the 11 employees who were allegedly told about Nassar’s behavior but failed to act.
“That so many survivors independently disclosed to so many different MSU employees over so many years, each time with no success, reveals a problem that cannot be explained as mere isolated, individual failures; it is evidence of a larger cultural problem at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic and MSU more broadly,” it says.
Michigan State University responded with a statement Friday afternoon saying the school was trying to change its culture. “We are extraordinarily sorry that Larry Nassar was on our campus and has hurt so many people. The university is engaged in – and investing in – an intense reform and cultural change effort to ensure that Michigan State University is a safe campus for students, faculty, staff and our community.”
The statement did not address the claims of stonewalling or the lack of cooperation with the special prosecutor. In fact, it pointed to the amount of documents it turned over to the special prosecutor’s office.
“Today’s announcement shows that the attorney general’s office has found no criminal conduct beyond those formerly charged, even after reviewing more than a half million documents and interviewing 500 people,” it said. “We appreciate the attorney general’s investigation and the hard work of the many people involved.“