During day one of William Strampel’s trial, prosecutors and the defense painted very different pictures of the former Michigan State University dean.
Thursday, jurors in the case heard opening statements, as well as one of the women accusing Strampel of sexually harassing her.
Strampel is accused of 2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct and 4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. He’s also being tried on charges of Misconduct in Office, as well as two counts of Willful Neglect of Duty, as it relates to his alleged handling of the Larry Nassar case.
During her opening statement, Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark tried to paint Strampel as a master manipulator.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” she said as she began her remarks.
But Strampel’s attorney, John Dakmak, countered by saying the case, as well as Strampel’s alleged conversations with female students, boiled down to context.
“This case is about language. It really boils down to language, context, interpretations of conversations,” Dakmak said.
Prosecutors argue Strampel allowed Nassar to return to work despite a Title IX complaint for sexual assault that was filed against him.
“It’s our position that the defendant allowed Larry Nassar to go back to seeing patients before a Title IX complaint, or an investigation was completed,” Hagaman-Clark said.
Hagaman-Clark also argued Strampel did not enforce protocols that he, himself gave to Nassar after he returned to work.
Strampel’s defense team has argued he was relying on advice from MSU attorneys regarding those protocols, and emails from within the university prove it. Judge Joyce Draganchuk ordered the university to release those emails to Strampel’s team in April.
In court Thursday, Dakmak argued Strampel was never told to enforce those protocols by his superiors, and pointed the finger squarely back on MSU.
“The bureaucracy of Michigan State, maybe it’s a little too big. Because maybe there’s way too many moving pieces in this,” he said.
Dakmak added the university appears to be throwing Strampel under a bus, and urged the jury to consider only the evidence.
“There may be a lot of reasons why this MSU administration may try to pose my client as a scapegoat for what happened here,” he said. “None of that matters.”
Strampel’s alleged victim testified a conversation with him about an exam turned sexual in nature. She said she believes Strampel was implying he wanted her to send him nude photos of herself.
“I really was just shocked at what was happening,” she said. “I really was just trying to figure out what to do and kinda just went into survival mode of, ‘Ok, what if this happens next? What am I gonna do?’ “
Special Agent Investigator Brian Laity, who works for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, also took the stand. Laity analyzed Strampel’s work computer, which was seized as agents from the AG’s office served a search warrant in the Strampel case.
On that computer were several photographs of women, some unclothed, some with Michigan State University piercings. Laity said Strampel received the photos in emails, however, there was no way to tell who the emails were from. He also said because none of the photos showed faces, there was no way to identify the women who were in them.
Strampel’s trial resumes Friday morning. 6 News Reporter Ashley Graham will be in the courtroom. Follow her on Twitter at @WLNSAshley for live updates.
6 News will also live stream the proceedings on wlns.com.