Michigan State president told to quit over Nassar abuse scandal

Victims claim university’s negligence allowed sexual abuse to occur 

January 24, 2018
Michigan State University
Source: iStock

The president of Michigan State University has faced calls to resign amid concerns about her alleged lack of response to complaints about the disgraced former gymnastics physician Larry Nassar.

Mitch Lyons, a trustee of the university, broke ranks and called for Lou Anna Simon to step down, a day after the board issued a statement declaring its support for the president.

“I don't believe President Simon can survive the public outcry that has been generated by this tragedy and even less so after hearing the testimony of these brave survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse,” he said in a statement.

A story in The Detroit News claims that reports of sexual misconduct by Dr Nassar from eight women reached at least 14 Michigan State University representatives, including Professor Simon, in the two decades before his arrest.

More than 140 women, including Michigan State alumni, have alleged since September 2016 that Dr Nassar sexually abused them under the pretence of giving them medical treatment.

The university is facing legal action by several women who allege that the institution’s negligence allowed the abuse to occur.

The former USA Gymnastics team doctor was a professor at the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as a sports physician for the university, until 2016.

He was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges in December 2017. Three members of the USA Gymnastics board of directors resigned on 22 January. USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny resigned amid accusations of negligence in March 2017.

Professor Simon was appointed president of the university in 2005. Quoted by The Detroit News, Professor Simon said that she “did not receive a copy” of reports alleging wrongdoing by Dr Nassar.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com 

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