NewsLocal News


MSU accused of sex-crime indifference, "stonewalling" investigation

Posted at 11:26 PM, Dec 21, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University has a culture of indifference toward sexual assault.

That condemnation comes from Special Prosecutor William Forsyth investigating MSU's handling of the Larry Nassar scandal.

"I think their biggest concern was the reputation of the university, and I think everything was geared toward trying to protect that,” he said.

He says the university has thrown up one roadblock after another, even though they asked for the investigation in the first place.

The sixteen page document tells us everything the investigation has uncovered, and Forsythe says he'd have more info to work with, except that MSU refused to cooperate, despite pledging to do so.

“If you make a mistake, just admit it,” Forsyth said, “Take whatever punishment you're going to get, move on and learn from it. I kept waiting for that to happen."

So far, it hasn't happened.

The report states that Michigan State "stonewalled" the investigation, even after asking the attorney general's office to look into the allegations.

When asked to share findings related to reports of sexual assault, MSU provided irrelevant documents detailing the school's bed bug policy, coupons for restaurants, and more.

"There were things that had nothing to do with why we were doing the investigation, yet those were some of the documents that we were being asked to look at,” said Forsyth.

And despite their pledge to cooperate, the special prosecutor says MSU withheld thousands of documents, citing attorney client privilege.

As long as Michigan State invokes that privilege, Forsyth says the investigation will stay at a standstill.

"If they were going to ask us to finally look at what happened here, I don't know how we'll ever get to the bottom of this if they never waive that privilege…Don't say you're going to cooperate with the investigation when you asked for it and then take that position, it's making this extremely difficult."

The report adds that the investigation is a result of a "failure of people, not policy," and that policies are no better than those who are expected to implement them.

"Just report it,” said Forsyth. “Find a chain of command. If you get a report or complaint of this nature, follow through with it and tell somebody."

Nassar was one of the first people investigators talked to.

Forsyth says Nassar is back to claiming he did nothing wrong and that the case should have been handled as medical malpractice.

Nassar said he pleaded guilty only because he lost support from his patients and the medical community after he was caught with a computer full of child pornography.

With Forsyth’s contract over at the end of the month, where does the investigation go from here?

Since the investigation was introduced by current Attorney General Bill Schuette, the case will get passed over to Attorney General Elect Dana Nessel once she takes office on January 1st, 2019.

Nessel released the following statement regarding the investigation:

"I commend special investigator William Forsythe and the dedicated members of the Attorney General’s office and the Michigan State Police who worked long and hard on this investigation. The findings in this report are deeply, deeply disturbing and the stories of the survivors are heartbreaking – but the callous disregard Michigan State University continued to show the victims and this special investigator absolutely infuriates me. The culture of indifference the University has displayed throughout this investigation is a pervasive poison that appears to have seeped into every corner of that campus. No institution – including that of Michigan State University – is above the law. I am committed to using my role as Michigan’s Attorney General to do whatever we must to bring justice and honor to the survivors, which includes continuing any aspects of the investigation which require further action."

Prosecutors are still fighting in court for 177 documents that MSU will not release, citing attorney client privilege.

Nessel's office will also take over the pending criminal cases against MSU Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel, former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages and former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.