By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – Michigan state lawmakers on Thursday released the results of an inquiry into Michigan State University’s handling of the Larry Nassar sexual assault case, criticizing school officials for failing to protect the victims.
The report by a Michigan House of Representatives committee specifically blames the university for a poor investigation into a complaint filed by victim Amanda Thomashow against Nassar in 2014, which erroneously found no wrongdoing by the disgraced physician.
The committee also proposed a series of reforms and legislation meant to ensure that a doctor in Nassar’s position could not carry out such abuse in the future.
“Though not all of us necessarily agree with each and every proposal, we all agree that a broad review of potential solutions is necessary to protect our children from predators like Larry Nassar and fix the problems revealed by his horrific crimes,” committee members wrote in the report.
Michigan State spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said in an email that the university would be working with the House on its legislation and “shares the joint concern of lawmakers who want to make sure the horrendous abuse that Larry Nassar executed cannot happen again.”
Nassar, a former faculty member and physician at an on-campus clinic at Michigan State University and a doctor for USA Gymnastics, was sentenced in February to up to 125 years in prison after some 200 young women testified about decades of abuse at his hands.
He had already received a sentence up to 175 years in a neighboring Michigan county, and was sentenced to a 60-year federal term for child pornography convictions.
In March, former Michigan State University dean William Strampel, Nassar’s former supervisor there, was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct involving medical school students.
Later that month, USA Today reported that a public relations firm billed the school more than $500,000 for one month of tracking social-media activity surrounding the Nassar case, which often included the accounts of his sexual assault victims and their families.
In the report, the committee notes that MSU “appears to defiantly and wrongfully maintain it did not mishandle this (Thomashow) investigation.”
The inquiry also faults the university for an inadequate informed consent policy, which “Nassar methodically exploited,” and for not requiring chaperones to be present during medical treatments of minors.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Tom Brown)