Why Haven't Heads Rolled at MSU in the Larry Nassar Molestation Case?

Dr. Larry Nassar (NBC News)

A lengthy piece on the news site Think Progress raises questions about why some key administrators at Michigan State University -- including the athletic director and president -- still have their jobs after the scandal involving Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics doctor who worked at the university for many years

He pleaded guilty last week to seven counts of sexual assault involving seven people, but admitted responsibility in many more cases -- some involving girls who became Olympic stars.

"Larry Nassar has three times as many alleged victims as Jerry Sandusky. . . . This is, without a doubt, the biggest sex abuse scandal in the history of U.S. sports," writes Lindsay Gibbs, who asks:

So why does it seem to have gotten a fraction of the attention of other high-profile sex abuse scandals in recent history — such as Jerry Sandusky’s abuse at Penn State, or the systemic enabling of rape culture at Baylor University?

And why aren’t there more widespread repercussions for the figures involved? . . .

The allegations against Nassar date back to 1994, and they all follow a similar pattern. Accusers say that while Nassar was medically treating young women and girls for lower back or hip pain, he would touch their vagina with his fingers, usually without prior notice. This often escalated to him digitally penetrating their vagina (often without gloves), grabbing their breasts, and even masturbating in front of them.

Two of Nassar’s victims allege in court documents obtained by Lansing State Journal that they told Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach Kathy Klages and multiple MSU athletic trainers about Nassar’s abuse in 1997 and 1998, but they were silenced.

One of those victims was Larissa Boyce, a 16-year-old gymnast who was treated at Nassar’s MSU office for back pain in 1997. In her federal lawsuit against Nassar and MSU, Boyce says that not only did Nassar digitally penetrate her vagina during treatments for back pain, but he would also often make grunting noises, ask her about her sex life, and appear to be sexually aroused during appointments. She eventually told Klages about Nassar’s behavior, but says Klages told her there was “no reason” to bring up Nassar’s conduct, and even threatened that filing an official complaint could lead to “serious consequences,” both for Nassar and Boyce.

Other victims say they notified officials at MSU about Nassar’s abuse over the next 15 years. But the most egregious known examples of Michigan State’s enabling of Nassar came more recently.

Despite the barrage of allegations, , Nassar was removed from MSU only following an investigation by the Indianapolis Star in September 2016. 

MSU President Lou Ann Simon

So far, the story points out, only one person at MSU has lost their job:  Coach Klages, who retired a day after being suspended in February 2017.

Gibbs writes:

Still happily employed at MSU? Athletics Director Mark Hollis; Dr. William Strampel, dean of MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, who told Nassar that he was “on [his] side” after the IndyStar investigation surfaced; and President Lou Anna K. Simon, who defended MSU’s inaction against Nassar to the Board of Trustees earlier this year by saying, “I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows.”

Read more:  Think Progress

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