The Slatest

Former Michigan State President Charged With Lying to Police About Larry Nassar

Simon, wearing glasses and sitting in front of a crowd, looks warily off too the distance.
Lou Anna Simon testifies during a Senate hearing focused on preventing abuse in the Olympics and other athletic settings, on June 5 in Washington. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon, who resigned in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse revelations, has been charged with two felony counts of lying to police in a violent crime investigation, local media reported Tuesday. She faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

According to local media, the warrant indicates that the charges stem from an omission in a statement she gave to police. “When asked about whether she was aware of any investigation involving Larry Nassar prior to 2016 she falsely or misleadingly said that ‘I was aware that in 2014 there was a sports medicine doc who was subject to a review’ when in fact she knew it was Larry Nassar who was the subject of the 2014 MSU Title IX investigation,” according to the charging document.

Simon is the third MSU official to be charged in the Attorney General Office’s investigation into the university’s handling of the case. Nassar, who has been convicted of assaulting dozens of women and who will remain in prison for the rest of his life, is thought to have assaulted hundreds of women and girls, both through the university where he worked as a doctor and through his work with USA Gymnastics.

Since Nassar’s crimes have come to light, advocates for the victims have condemned MSU officials (along with USA Gymnastics) for failing to properly investigate allegations of improper behavior by Nassar that dated back decades. The Detroit News and other publications reported multiple cases through the years in which MSU employees were reportedly alerted to cases of potential abuse, but MSU didn’t fire Nassar until after an Indianapolis Star article detailed allegations against him in the fall of 2016.

Simon resigned on Jan. 24, just hours after Nassar was sentenced in Ingham County Circuit Court, after politicians and Nassar survivors called for her to step down. The board of trustees had originally stood by her, but a couple trustees eventually called for her to resign, leading to her departure. According to the Lansing State Journal, in April 2017, when a large number of allegations were known, Simon told the board that experts had told her it was “virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile.”

Simon was also charged with two misdemeanor counts, and she will be arraigned in court on Monday. An MSU spokeswoman told the Journal in a statement that Simon, who has since resigning remained a tenured professor at the university with a presidential salary, will take “an immediate leave of absence, without pay, to focus on her legal situation.”

William Strampel, the former dean of osteopathic medicine and one of Nassar’s former bosses, has been charged with two misdemeanors related to the investigation. Former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages has been charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of lying to police about her knowledge of abuse allegations about Nassar. They are both awaiting trial.