Michigan State University police have taken over an investigation of potential fraud related to a fund intended to cover counseling services for survivors of abuse by Larry Nassar.
MSU froze its Healing Assistance Fund in July when the vendor running the fund, Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation, Inc., raised red flags about potential fraudulent claims. Fraudulent claims in this case means someone doesn't meet the criteria of being a Nassar survivor or parent of a survivor, isn't receiving services from a licensed therapist, or is not claiming out-of-pocket expenses only.
The Healing Assistance Fund was authorized by the MSU Board of Trustees last December. It is separate from a $500 million settlement agreement between MSU and victims from May 2018.
Mick Grewal is an attorney for some of the survivors. He says the investigation has revictimized them.
“If there's fraud going on by all means they have a right to go investigate it, and I hope no one's taking advantage of the system, but what does that have to do with covering treatment for survivors?” says Grewal.
Grewal claims that Commonwealth has violated some of the survivors’ medical privacy by contacting providers and asking for protected health information. None of the providers granted these requests.
Paul Finn, CEO of Commonwealth, denied that his organization asked for these records. "We did not call providers and ask for persoal records," says Finn.
MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant says, “As part of the investigation we have asked the vendor, Commonwealth, to provide documentation that they were making sure that folks meet the criteria set up for the fund...we are expecting and certainly hope that every privacy law, health care privacy and privacy laws are being followed in the collection of that information.”
MSU says it will reopen the fund when the investigation is complete.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Commonwealth requested private medical records from providers. That is incorrect. The story as been corrected above.