When Dr. Larry Nassar used his position as a team doctor at Michigan State University to abuse and molest nearly 150 female athletes in his care, he was not acting alone. He was leveraging the trust and credibility of the university.
Now MSU is looking for a way to shield officials who either knew or should have known the doctor was dangerous.
Nassar, the former Olympic team physician and MSU instructor, has been sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. He has pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct and faces more charges. Both the doctor and MSU are named in many civil cases filed by the doctor’s victims.
In recent years, former Olympians and other gymnasts have told harrowing stories of Dr. Nassar sexually assaulting them when he was supposed to be treating their sports injuries.
Michigan State commissioned an internal report to look into how university officials handled suspicions about Dr. Nassar. But the university does not want to release the findings of the internal review, which obviously may hinder their defense in the many lawsuits filed by Dr. Nassar’s victims. In fact, the attorney for MSU has gone so far as to claim that no report even exists.
MSU’s scandal is shaping up to be much like the case of Penn State University, where Jerry Sandusky was able to prey on his young victims for years, shielded by the school’s high-profile football program.
In Pennsylvania, the university’s president, vice president, and athletic director all eventually faced criminal charges for their part in failing to stop Sandusky. The charges stemmed from an internal report commissioned by the university’s board of trustees, much like the MSU review now in question.
Scuttling a report that details where university officials failed the victims of Dr. Nassar is unconscionable on every level. And such stonewalling will bring an end as ignominious as the end Penn State officials met.
Michigan State is failing utterly the tests of transparency and accountability. It must hand over the results of its internal review to the state attorney general. And Michigan State officials should reach out out to Nassar’s victims and begin examining their own consciences.
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