Former Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon was back in an Eaton County courtroom Monday. Simon is accused of lying to Michigan State Police investigators about when she knew about former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual assaults against hundreds of girls and young women.
WKAR’s Karel Vega and Kevin Lavery talked about Simon’s day in court.
Kevin, why was Lou Anna Simon back in court today?
Karel, this was the continuation of her ongoing preliminary hearing...you may remember the last time she appeared before Eaton County Judge Julie Reincke was in February. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says Lou Anna Simon lied when she told police investigators that she did not know that Larry Nassar’s sex crimes until 2016. Prosecutors say Simon actually became aware of Nassar two years earlier, in 2014.
Today, assistant attorney general Scott Teter called Kristine Moore to the stand. She’s an attorney and general counsel for MSU. Back in 2014, though, Moore led the Title IX investigation that ultimately cleared Larry Nassar of any criminal wrongdoing. Former gymnast Amanda Thomashow had filed a complaint against Nassar in April of 2014, stating he had touched her in an intimate and inappropriate manner without her consent.
Moore interviewed 10 people during that investigation, and ultimately Nassar was able to convince her that he was performing established medical procedures and was not engaging in any sexual impropriety towards Thomashow.
What did Kristine Moore say today?
The AG’s office is trying to show that Lou Anna Simon had a motive to lie about her knowledge of Larry Nassar. Kristine Moore said she assumed Larry Nassar would be suspended from seeing patients while she conducted her investigation. However, Moore told the prosecution that she received an email from Nassar before her investigation was complete, in which he said he would be returning to work.
Kristine Moore defended her final report, basically saying she did the best she could with the information she had to work with.
Simon’s defense team -- specifically, attorney Lee Silver -- repeatedly objected to Teter’s line of questioning, saying all this was irrelevant to the charges Simon is facing. Teter countered by saying that the decision to allow Nassar to return to work in the period between 2014 and 2016 puts MSU and Lou Anna Simon at risk of civil and criminal liability.
Were there any other witnesses?
Yes, Moore’s former boss, Paulette Granberry Russell. She’s the Senior Advisor to the MSU President for Diversity. She also directs the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. She reported directly to Lou Anna Simon. Her testimony was very short today because the judge was trying to adhere to a tight ending time at noon. She will undoubtedly have to continue her testimony on Tuesday.
And what does Simon’s defense say?
In a word…irrelevant! That was the word attorney Lee Silver used over and over again, continuously offering objections. He maintains his client is completely innocent of the four counts of lying to police; two of which are felony counts. Now, It will be up to Judge Julie Reincke to determine if this case should go to trial.