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Former Dean at MSU's trial continues

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Posted at 11:48 AM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 11:48:26-04

LANSING, Mich. — Thursday marked Strampel's fifth day in court as witnesses continued to testify.

The first witness to take the stand was MSU Professor Dr. Suresh Mukherji, with a focus on Strampel's involvement with the Larry Nassar situation.

Questioning began with Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark who asked about an interaction between Mukherji and Strampel regarding a complaint made against Nassar. The complaint was about sexual assault.

Mukherji said Strampel told him he had the situation handled and told Mukherji that he should not to talk to anyone about it. In that meeting, Strampel told the witness that Nassar had been suspended.

Later on that summer, Mukherji said he had learned that Nassar was allowed to see patients again, but under three conditions: there had to be a chaperon, Nassar must use gloves and that there's formal patient consent.

In August of 2016, Mukherji testified that he attended what he called an "urgent meeting" with Former Dean Strampel. He said they talked about a soon-to-be-released article from the Indianapolis Star that was going to expose Nassar. Strampel told Mukherji that Nassar had been suspended from all clinical responsibilities.

Mukherji told the court that he never knew if Strampel was following the three requirements he was given during his patient visits.

Once the article exposing Nassar was released in September of 2016, Mukherji told that court he still had not heard anything about the Nassar situation. He then testified that he found out at a United Way dinner that Nassar had not been following those three requirements.

Defense stepped up to question Mukherji, first asking him if he was aware of the sexual assault allegations that had been made toward Nassar. He said he was not aware that a Title IX investigation was being done. He also said Nassar was not subject to a probationary period.

Mukherji told the court that when seeing patients, there would always be a chaperon where there was an exam of female genitalia.

The witness then tells the court that he had two interactions with Nassar about a possible promotion. He said he never asked Nassar about the requirements.

Jumping back to 2014, he said that during a meeting with Nassar's supervisor, he said that they needed to make sure Nassar was following the requirements. In July of 2014, Mukherji said he was promoted to Chief Medical Officer of the Health Team where he said he had no oversight of the clinical operations.

Mukherji said he was only aware of the agreement between Strampel and Nassar regarding the suspension and conditional reinstatement.
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Taylor Scott, a faculty member of MSU College of Medicine (COM) was the next witness to testify.

Scott was asked if he was aware of the life skills models, following a previous testimony made by another witness in court Tuesday.
He said he was unaware of Life Skills Models, but he knows of Standardized Patients, who are recruited to act as a real patient to help medical students learn how to interact medically with real people.

In regards to the recruiting process of these Standardized Patients, Scott said applicants would usually respond to a classified ad in the newspaper.
He said that students could opt out of sensitive exams if they wanted to. Scott said as a Standardized Patient, more mundane exams would occur before a sensitive exam.

Talking more about the process of becoming a Standardized Patient, Scott said there is a scheduling process for them. He said Standardized Patients would be called in by a curriculum assistant. He testified that it is not the job of the dean to call in a Standardized Patient for a clinical.

Scott told the court he was made aware the Former Dean Strampel was participating as a Standardized Patient for sensitive exams, telling the court that others were concerned.

He added that there were no other reports of faculty members participating in clinics as Standardized Patients.

Once cross -examination began, Scott said there was a process for exams in which there was a demonstration of the exam done by the faculty followed by several exams done by the students.

Scott said he wasn't aware of specific faculty members who came in specifically for sensitive exams. Scott testified that Strampel was a faculty member and was able to bring in his own students. When asked if anyone ever complained about Strampel's group getting more time in practice exams, Scott said he didn't recall anything specific.

Scott said there was an instance in Strampel's class where Strampel filled in for a Standardized Patient that did not show up to a practical. He said that's when he was made aware of the concerns that the former dean was participating in the clinics as a Standardized Patient.

In regards to nudity during a clinical, Scott said that it's not unusual and is in fact expected, to see someone naked during a clinical. He said that as a doctor, you need to and did get used to being around a patient wearing nothing but a gown.

When defense asked him about performing a pelvic exam on a female, he was asked if documenting the presence or absence of pubic hair is clinically responsible, Scott said yes.

Prosecution then asked if it was responsible to comment, rather than just documenting the findings. Scott said it's not unusual to describe the findings, but he said talking about pubic hair is different than commenting about ear wax, or something else.

Prosecution asked if it was unusual to comment on nothing but the pubic hair and Scott said yes.
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Strampel is accused of sexually assaulting women and misconduct in office.

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