The Slatest

Former Michigan State Dean Found Guilty of Neglectful Behavior in Larry Nassar Case

Rollstin speaks at a podium during Strampel's arraignment. Strampel is seen on a screen on a wall of the courtroom.
Michigan Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin (right) speaks during the arraignment of Dr. William Strampel (left, on screen) at a district court in East Lansing, Michigan, on March 27, 2018.
Jeff Kowalsky/Getty Images

A former dean at Michigan State University who at one point had oversight of Larry Nassar was found guilty Wednesday of neglect of duty and misconduct in office related to the handling of allegations against Nassar, who was accused of sexually assaulting scores of women during his decades as a sports doctor at MSU.

A jury found that William Strampel, the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at MSU, had failed to enforce restrictions placed on Nassar after the doctor was accused of sexual misconduct, according to the Associated Press. He was found not guilty of the more serious sexual misconduct charges.

In 2014, after Amanda Thomashow made a complaint about Nassar, the doctor was required to wear gloves during exams, banned from being alone in exam rooms with his patients, and mandated to get informed consent from patients before meeting with them. But according to prosecutors, Strampel allowed Nassar to return to work too soon during the investigation and showed a lack of interest in whether Nassar followed the new guidelines.

The jurors heard testimony from women who claimed that Strampel used his position to proposition and otherwise harass female medical students, but they did not convict him on the second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. His lawyers acknowledged that Strampel had made crude, sexual remarks to female medical students but argued that “locker room talk” was not illegal.

According to the Lansing State Journal, Strampel’s sexual misconduct allegations stemmed from an accusation from one former medical student who accused him of groping her.

Others who testified said that when they were acting as patients during demonstrations of sensitive exams, Strampel acted inappropriately, according to the Journal. One said he commented on her lack of pubic hair and made eye contact with her while his fingers were in her vagina. The other said he told her afterward that he would stop demonstrating the exam for students because he had become aroused while examining her. Another woman testified that she believed Strampel failed her from a course after she refused to have sex with him.

Strampel was the first person to be charged from the investigation into the university’s handling of Nassar allegations, and he is now the first MSU official to be convicted. Nassar, who was sentenced to 40 to 125 years for sexual assault in two different Michigan counties and possession of child pornography, has been accused of molesting at least 500 women and girls, both during his time at MSU and through his work with USA Gymnastics.

Strampel was charged in March 2018 after stepping down the year before as dean, citing medical reasons. He continued to teach and receive a $200,000 salary from MSU, and his tenure made it difficult for the university to fire him. He and MSU reached an agreement in June 2018 in which he left with a basic retiree health care plan and a final $175,000 payment.

Two other MSU officials are still facing potential criminal convictions. MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages has been charged with lying about her knowledge of complaints about Nassar to police.* And former MSU President Lou Anna Simon, who resigned from her position when Nassar was sentenced in January 2018, was charged last year with lying to police.

Strampel faces a maximum of five years in prison for the misconduct charge, while the two other charges of neglect of duty each carry one-year maximum sentences. He will be sentenced on July 31.

Correction, June 12, 2019: This post originally misspelled Kathie Klages’ first and last name.