Those who believed that the criminal probe into serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar ended when the USA Gymnastics team doctor went to prison woke up to a surprise this morning. Police arrested Nassar’s boss at Michigan State University, William Strampel, as part of the ongoing investigation by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. CBS News reports on the arrest of the former dean of osteopathic medicine and an upcoming press conference to discuss Schuette’s next moves:
A Michigan State University official who oversaw Larry Nassar was arrested Monday amid an investigation into the handling of complaints against the former sport doctor, who is in prison for sexually assaulting patients under the guise of treatment. William Strampel was in jail pending an arraignment Tuesday, Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth told The Associated Press. He declined to say what charges Strampel was facing because the probe is being led by the Michigan attorney general’s office. …
Strampel was the dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, which includes the sports medicine clinic, until he announced a leave of absence for medical reasons in December. He told police last year that he never followed up after ordering Nassar in 2014 to have a third person present when providing treatment to “anything close to a sensitive area.” In letting Nassar resume seeing patients, he also said any skin-to-skin contact should be minimal and needed to be explained in detail. …
Strampel told a campus detective and FBI agent in 2017 that he did not check to see if Nassar was following the guidance because Nassar had been “exonerated” in an investigation of a patient’s complaint and the imposed guidelines were “health care 101.” At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the probe ended, including many during which Nassar made ungloved skin-to-skin contact when no chaperone was present, according to a university police report.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Strampel was already a liability at MSU, even if no criminal actions had been found:
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Dr. Strampel had told a group of students and administrators in October 2016—when he was the dean of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine—that he didn’t believe the women and girls who accused Dr. Nassar of sexual abuse, according to two people who said they were present at the meeting.
Michigan State had fired Dr. Nassar the month before, amid a criminal investigation into his conduct. “Patients lie to get doctors in trouble,” Dr. Strampel was reported as saying. “I don’t think any of these women were actually assaulted by Larry…As soon as I found out I had to fire his ass. I didn’t want to, but what am I supposed to do?”
The Journal also reported that Dr. Strampel had asked a student to perform a rectal exam on him in 2005, according to a memo written by individuals in that class and shared with a longtime faculty member shortly after the alleged incident.
Strampel had already become a lightning rod for lawsuits stemming from the Nassar scandal, and with remarks like those in the public record, it’s not tough to understand why. MSU sources told the WSJ that the school had been trying to terminate Strampel for a while now. The Free Press recaps those efforts:
Interim MSU President John Engler started the process in February of stripping Strampel of his tenure and firing him for his failure to enforce special protocols put in place for Nassar following a 2014 sexual assault investigation.
The arrest might expedite that process, although tenure rules may make it impossible to accomplish without a finding of misconduct, at the very least. Schuette might end up with an assist on that score.
As the Journal’s Melissa Korn and Rebecca Davis O’Brien note, the move shouldn’t be a complete surprise either, at least not to Strampel. Two months ago, Schuette’s team served a search warrant on Strampel and MSU for Strampel’s computers. Schuette had put a target on Strampel’s back for some time; we’re just finding out about it now.
Schuette has a presser scheduled for later this morning. Want to bet that Strampel’s higher-ups will be watching and listening very, very closely?
Update: The Associated Press reports that Strampel has his own issues:
A Michigan State University official who oversaw a clinic where former sports doctor Larry Nassar worked is facing criminal charges for allegedly inappropriately touching a student and storing nude photos of female students on his work computer.
William Strampel, who was dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine until late last year, was charged Tuesday with a felony, a high court misdemeanor and two misdemeanors. He is due to be arraigned in the afternoon.
The complaint charges Strampel with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, neglect of duty and misconduct of a public official.
What in the world was happening at MSU? How did Strampel get these photos? This opens up a whole new can of worms for Michigan State.