Lawyers want independent investigation into MSU gymnastics scandal

Posted at 7:16 AM, Feb 16, 2017

Lawyers representing several woman who say former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulted them, are calling for an independent investigation, because they say the case hits too close to home for the University's police department.

On Wednesday Attorney David Mittleman, who is representing more than a dozen women in a federal lawsuit against Nassar and the University, met with MSU Police Chief James Dunlap. Mittleman says he asked Dunlap to consider letting an independent investigator, like the FBI, take the case.

"I think they have a hard time separating themselves from the University," Mittleman said. "There are political motivations to do or not do certain things, and there's money that's involved with powerful institutions."

Mittleman says bringing in a neutral party would be the best way to fully investigate the possible criminal and civil liabilities the University could face, especially given allegations MSU let the abuse continue for decades despite some woman coming forward.

It's a stance Jamie White, who's representing several woman in a lawsuit against Nassar, agrees with.

"At this point in time, I think until the university brings in a third party, to look at its internal institutions, its methods for reporting and vetting sexual assaults, there's a potential for this to happen again," White said.

White says the issue isn't the work the department has been doing, it's the need to truly put an end to a culture of silence.

"Some egregious mistakes have been made, and its time to get those mistakes corrected and make sure it doesn't happen again," White added.

Since September of last year, more than 60 woman have filed sexual assault complaints against Nassar.

MSU police have been working the case for 6 months and the department says for another investigator to step in there would be a steep learning curve.

When FOX 47 News reached out the the University and they police department, they referred us to a statement Chief Dunlap released on February 3, 2017.

The statement is as follows:

"The Michigan State University Police Department continues to investigate numerous reports of Criminal Sexual Conduct involving Larry Nassar. Like all statutorily created law enforcement agencies, the MSUPD acts to independently report investigative findings to the appropriate prosecutorial entity.

With regards to Larry Nassar, the predicate to all of the charges and indictments thus far obtained at either the state level or federal level have been the direct result of the investigations conducted by MSUPD.

All criminal violations are investigated and allegations of state violations are referred to the Attorney General's office for their review and any allegations of federal violations are referred to the U.S. Attorney's office. If non criminal allegations are made they are referred to the appropriate administrative office for their review.

At no time has President Simon demanded anything from our office other than her expectation that a thorough investigation of these cases occur. At no time has the Attorney General or the U.S. Attorney expressed any concerns over the ability or quality of the investigation by MSUPD.

Our detectives have devoted thousands of hours in a tireless effort to get the best possible outcome for all of the victim/survivors of these incidents. We will continue our efforts until each incident is resolved."

James Dunlap
Chief of Police
Michigan State University Police Department