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Judge denies motion to dismiss three counts against former MSU dean in seventh day of trial

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Posted at 12:51 PM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 12:51:04-04

LANSING, Mich.  — Monday morning marked William Strampel's seventh day in court. Instead of jumping right into testimonies, the day started out with a ruling from Judge Joyce Draganchuk.

Last Friday, Defense Attorney John Dakmak made a motion to dismiss three counts charged against Strampel, which were count five of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, and counts three and four of Willful Neglect of Duty. Judge Draganchuk denied the motion for all three counts.

Following the ruling, the first witness to take the stand was Dr. Carol Monson, a professor at MSU's College of Medicine.

Questioning began with Monson's knowledge of the Health Team. She told the court she managed the Family Medicine Clinic as part of the Health Team.

Monson told the court she was part of the Committee on Student Evaluation (COSE). This committee is part of the appeals process for failed exams, in addition to other things. Of the students that testified over the last week, half of them mentioned meeting with COSE.

Defense then asked Monson about the demographics of the committee. In regards to gender, Monson said the committee was mixed and depended on certain factors. When asked if she was the only female to sit on the committee at any point, she said no.

Monson said that whenever the committee made a decision, the committee chair would let the dean know of their decision, then contact the student. The student would have the option to appeal to the dean of that college.

Monson told the court that Strampel could, and sometimes did, override decisions made by the committee.

In regards to a witness who testified last week, the court asked Monson about whether or not she knew witness Dr. Jessica Neuroth. She said she saw her name in the paper, but didn't know her personally. She said there's a lot of students and it's hard to know everyone on a personal level.

The court then questioned Monson about the scholarship luncheon where Strampel allegedly groped Neuroth. In terms of the group photo that Neuroth testified to, Monson said that Neuroth was not in it.

Monson told the court she doesn't remember much about the specific groping incident. In regards to other witnesses such as Leah Jackson and Alicia Flores, Monson said that she never heard any complaints about Strampel's behavior in meetings that were scheduled.

Talking more in depth about the annual ball, Monson told the court she had been to "pretty much" every one since it began in the 90's.

It was during the 2010 ball that Dr. Nicole Eastman testified that Strampel groped her. Monson told the court she was at that specific ball.

She said normally about 800 people attended the ball.

Unlike Eastman's testimony, Monson said the ball was pretty packed with people and that there isn't much room to move around.

"It's very, very crowded and close company," Monson said.

Talking more specifically about the dance floor, Monson said there's very little room between the dance floor and the surrounding tables. She said that if she scooted her chair back, she'd have very little space before hitting the dance floor.

Once cross-examination began, Monson was asked about Eastman. She was shown a couple of pictures taken at the ball. Monson said she did not recognize the people in the photos.

Monson was then asked about her involvement with Strampel's reviews in 2005, 2010 and 2015. She said she only filled out the surveys, nothing else.

She was asked again about the 2014 banquet, the banquet where Neuroth testified that she was groped at. Monson said again that she didn't know about Neuroth until reading about her testimony in this trial.

In regards to the sensitive exams performed at the Family Medicine Clinic, she asked if there is someone in a room when a physician performs that exam on someone of another gender. She said yes there was.

The court went into a 15-minute recess.
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Following the recess, the next witness to take the stand was Dr. William Falls. He retired from MSU's College of Medicine, working there for 39 years and 11 months. As an associate dean, he was part of the executive staff.

Regarding the decisions made by COSE, Dr. Falls said he is the one who would deliver the news to students. Fall said he also sat in on COSE meetings.

Falls said he would have occasional meetings with Strampel after some of his meetings with students.

Falls said there would be eight to 10 appeals that would go to the dean. When asked about his familiarity with current and former students who have testified, he said he's only talked to Priyanka Pandey.

Falls said that neither she nor any other students who've testified said anything about Strampel's behavior.

At the White Coat ceremony, where Strampel gave the "I am not your father" speech, Falls said Strampel would not "sugarcoat things."

Falls said that Strampel was mostly fair in the appeals process.

"Never thought the decision was wrong at the time," Falls said.

Falls said he heard from students that Strampel sometimes made sexual comments.

Falls said Strampel would make sexual innuendos to both men and women.

Falls said that he was a mandatory Title IX reporter, but he said he never reported Strampel in any regard. He told the court that Strampel's comments weren't directed at anyone in general.

Falls said no student reported any inappropriate comments. He was off the stand.
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Falls was the last witness to testify in this trial. The court will now work to finalize directions for the jury to begin deliberation.

Judge Draganchuk asked Strampel if he wanted to testify at his trial, he said he did not.

Court was dismissed and will resume Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m.
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Strampel is accused of sexually assaulting women and misconduct in office.

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