Report: “Culture of indifference toward sexual assault" at MSU | Michigan Radio
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Report: “Culture of indifference toward sexual assault" at MSU

Dec 21, 2018

The Michigan Attorney General's office released a report on Michigan State University’s handling of sexual assault complaints against Larry Nassar Friday morning.

The report describes a "culture of indifference toward sexual assault" at the university; details how the school "stonewalled" its investigation; and claims that officials worked to protect the school's reputation at the expense of the safety of women and girls.

Nassar given benefit of the doubt

The report describes "a culture of indifference and institutional protection" when it came to reports of Nassar's abuse.

"That so many survivors independently disclosed to so many different MSU employees over so may years, each time with no success, reveals a problem that cannot be explained as mere isolated, individual failures; it is evidence of a larger cultural problem at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic and MSU more broadly."

The investigation also found that at least 11 MSU employees failed to report allegations of abuse by Nassar.

"Of the 280 survivors we interviewed, 13 stated that they reported Nassar's abuse to an indentified MSU employee at or near the time it was happening."

MSU "stonewalled" investigators

Retired Kent County prosecutor William Forsyth was appointed to lead the investigation by Attorney General Bill Schuette in January 2018, shortly after Nassar's sentencing.

In the report, Forsyth describes in detail how Michigan State failed to live up to its pledge to cooperate with the investigation, and instead used "protectionist tactics" in dealing with the Attorney General's office.

"When we requested MSU produce documents relating to Nassar and the University's handling of sexual assault reports," wrote Forsyth, "MSU drowned our investigators in irrelevant documents," and "offered absolutely no assistance in determining who at the University knew of Nassar's abuse and when they knew it."

In general, the report says, MSU was uncooperative in a way that was "unacceptable and inconsistent with its public pledge of openness and cooperation," and that "an institution truly interested in the truth would not have acted as MSU has."

Nassar's statements of remorse a "farce"

Forsythe says investigators' interview with Nassar proved unhelpful, and that Nassar's show of remorse during his sentencing was a farce. Nassar told investigators he decided to plead guilty "because he lost support from the medical community and his patients after the police discovered reams of child pornography in his possession."

Nassar also apparently believes that his criminal case should have been a "medical malpractice case," despite one of the charges against him being from Kyle Stephens, a family friend who was never a patient.

Erika Davis allegations have "no credible evidence"

Investigators also looked into a claim made by former MSU field hockey athlete Erika Davis.

Davis filed a lawsuit in September claiming she had been raped and impregnated by Nassar in 1992, and that former athletic director and head football coach George Perles covered it up.

However, investigators found no credible evidence to support those claims.

"In fact," wrote Forsythe, "we found substantial evidence contradicting her claims concerning the supposed cover-up."