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Trial of Former MSU Dean Strampel Begins

Opening statements and first witnesses were called Thursday in the criminal trial of the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University.

William Strampel is charged with not properly overseeing Larry Nassar after an internal investigation. Nassar is the former sports doctor who sexually assaulted his patients for decades.

Strampel is also accused of using his position to try and to get sexual favors from female students.

John Dakmak, Strampel’s attorney, said his client may have said things to students that most people might think are odd or inappropriate. But he said there was never a quid pro quo statement.

“Yes, my client may have tough conversations with students,” said Dakmak during his opening statement. “And it may be salty, it may be ribald, it may be vulgar. These are not 12-year-old kids, these are adults in medical school.”

Leah Jackson, an MSU medical student, and witness called by the Attorney General’s office said that’s not how she saw their interactions. Jackson said she went to see then Dean Strampel when she’d failed required tests to continue on in medical school. She said their conversation quickly turned to Strampel making inappropriate and sexualized comments. Jackson said she was blindsided and, “I really was just, ‘is this really what’s happening?’ You know. I got – I was scared.” 

Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark is prosecuting the case. She said during opening statements that witnesses – including Jackson - will testify that Strampel made it clear to female students that he had all the power. Hagaman-Clark told the Jury Strampel told students, “I hold your future in my hands.”

“Because we know he has the absolute authority at that College of Medicine,” continued Hagaman-Clark. Dakmak disagreed with that characterization.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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