Lawyer: Michigan State Hampered Probe Of Its Nassar Dealings

Dec 21, 2018

A report released Friday from the independent special counsel investigating Michigan State University’s handling of the Larry Nassar case accuses the school of being intentionally uncooperative. 

The report charges that MSU  is perpetuating a culture of indifference toward sexual assault by refusing to cooperate fully with investigators.

Special Counsel William Forsyth said we may never know what happened as long as the school continues to invoke attorney-client privilege.

“Things are more important in life than money and finances," said Forsyth. "And, in this case, I think the survivors and the public deserve to know what happened here. But, it’s pretty clear they’re not going to wave their privilege.”

The report also alleges the school employed protectionist tactics, to insulate and protect the school from any future lawsuits.

The tactics included dumping thousands of unrelated documents for investigators to go through and hiring a legal team to represent the university when witnesses were interviewed.

The school issued a statement emphasizing no additional criminal charges had been brought.

Assistant Attorney General Christina Grossi said the culture of protecting the university’s reputation above all else, still exists.

“MSU’s strategy was essentially to circle the wagons and that every trustee toed the line when it came with that," said Grossi. "Including those trustees who have publicly indicated that they’re supportive of the survivors and advocate change.”

Grossi also said the school turned over huge amounts of documents for investigators to go through to keep the investigation from moving forward.

“The vast majority of it was worthless and it was things that we hadn’t asked for," said Grossi. "So I think our, you know personally our perception was, I can speak for myself, was that the intent of it was to publicly portray corroboration while at the same time delaying our ability to move forward in the investigation.”

So far, the investigation has produced criminal cases against former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, former dean William Strampel, and former university President Lou Anna K. Simon.

ORIGINAL Associated Press STORY 

An independent special counsel on Friday accused Michigan State University of stonewalling his investigation into the school's handling of the sexual abuse scandal involving disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Special counsel Bill Forsyth released a report that accuses the school of fighting the release of certain relevant documents and releasing others that were "irrelevant." It says these actions hampered the investigation.

"Their biggest concern was the reputation of the university," Forsyth said at a news conference in Lansing that was streamed live online.

"Just come out with what happened here," he said. "I believe they could disclose some of this without violating attorney-client privilege."

School officials didn't immediately reply to an email seeking comment about the report.

Hundreds of women and girls, most of them gymnasts, accused Nassar of molesting them under the guise that it was treatment during his time working for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, which trained Olympians. He received long prison terms after pleading guilty to child pornography possession and sexual abuse charges.

Forsyth and his team of prosecutors and investigators have brought criminal charges against five people, including ex-Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon. She was charged last month with lying to police during an investigation. One of her attorneys has said the charges are baseless.

Forsyth was appointed by Michigan state Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate the school's handling of Nassar. The investigation is ongoing, though Forsyth said he is stepping down at the end of this month when his contract ends.