Investigators Accuse Michigan State of Stonewalling Larry Nassar Investigation

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2018

COLLEGE PARK, MD- JANUARY 28:  The Michigan State Spartans logo on a pair of shorts during a college basketball game against the Maryland Terrapins at The Xfinity Center on January 28, 2018 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 74-68.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Investigators in the Michigan attorney general's office have claimed that Michigan State has tried to "stonewall" its investigation into various members of the university and the mistakes they made that allowed former doctor Larry Nassar to sexually assault hundreds of young women and female athletes, per Dan Murphy of ESPN.com. 

Special counsel Bill Forsyth said the university hindered the state's investigation in several ways, from issuing "misleading public statements" to "[drowning] investigators in irrelevant documents and [waging] needless battles over pertinent documents," according to Murphy. 

"At some point in time, just admit you screwed up here and take whatever steps you need to take to rectify it," Forsyth said.

Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison on sexual assault convictions in Ingham County, Michigan, 60 years in federal prison on child pornography convictions and up to 125 years in prison on sexual assault convictions in Eaton County, Michigan. And many of the women who testified against Nassar also testified that the university failed to take any action against him despite being told he committed sexual assault.

Three former Michigan State employees have been charged by the Michigan attorney general's office as a result of its investigation thus far: Lou Anna Simon (former MSU president), William Strampel (the former medical school dean and Kathie Klages (former gymnastics coach).

Alongside the state's investigation, Michigan State commissioned a private law firm to undergo its own investigation, though Forsyth questioned the motives of that inquiry, per Murphy:

"Those attorneys have told the attorney general's group that they made no formal report about their findings and cannot share information they learned in their investigation because it would violate attorney-client privileges. Forsyth said he believes that at least part of the reason Michigan State hired its own attorneys to do a thorough review was so the university could later withhold that information from outside investigators by claiming it was privileged."

The investigation's lead, Christina Grossi, has requested that a local judge allow them to see some of the documents that Michigan State has withheld. She also said the investigation found "evidence that some high-ranking Michigan State officials included attorneys on email exchanges that weren't intended for them for the sole purpose of shielding investigators from viewing them."

Interim MSU president John Engler also claimed during a board meeting last week that the investigation was over, and a university spokesperson said in a statement: "Today's announcement shows that the attorney general's office has found no criminal contact beyond those formerly charged, even after reviewing more than a half million documents and interviewing 500 people."

According to Forsyth, however, the state is still investigating, with around 15,000 documents regarding the Nassar situation to review and requests for the court to force Michigan State to hand over additional documents.