Former Michigan State University dean charged in Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal

Former Michigan State University dean charged in Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal
Larry Nassar.

A former Michigan State University (MSU) dean has been charged with sexually harassing female students and pressuring them for nude selfies.

William Strampel, 70, is the first person charged since an investigation was launched in January into how Michigan State handled complaints against sports doctor Larry Nassar, who for years sexually violated girls and young women, especially gymnasts, during examinations.

Strampel was dean until December of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he oversaw the clinic where Nassar worked, yet he failed to enforce restrictions he imposed on Nassar after a female patient accused him in 2014 of sexual contact, authorities alleged.

Nassar was not supposed to administer any treatment to patients near any "sensitive areas" without a chaperone present.

Because Strampel did not follow up to make sure Nassar was abiding by the restrictions, he was able to commit a host of additional sexual assaults until he was fired two years later, prosecutors said.

The criminal complaint also accused Strampel of soliciting nude photos from at least one female medical student and using his office to "harass, discriminate, demean, sexually proposition, and sexually assault female students in violation of his statutory duty as a public officer".

His computer contained about 50 photos of female genitalia, nude and semi-nude women, sex toys and pornography, prosecutors said.

"Many of these photos are of what appear to be 'selfies' of female MSU students, as evidenced by the MSU clothing and piercings featured in multiple photos," according to the complaint.

Strampel was also accused of grabbing students' buttocks at the college's annual ball and a scholarship dinner.

Strampel spent Monday night in jail ahead of an arraignment this afternoon. His lawyer, John Dakmak, declined to comment.

The maximum penalty for the charges - misconduct in office, criminal sexual conduct and two counts of neglect of duty - ranges from a year to five years behind bars.

Bill Forsyth, hired as a special prosecutor by Michigan's attorney general to investigate the university, would not discuss the photos on Strampel's computer or precisely how he obtained them.

"This is an ongoing investigation," Mr Forsyth said at a news conference. "We would encourage anybody with information, whether it be about former dean Strampel or whether it's about anything at Michigan State that they're concerned about, call the hotline at the attorney general's office and report that."

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison earlier this year after roughly 200 women gave statements against him in two courtrooms over 10 days.

Strampel told authorities in 2017 that he did not check to see if Nassar was following the restrictions on his practice because Nassar had been "exonerated" in an investigation by police and the university. At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the probe ended, according to university police.

Nassar was fired in 2016 for violating the chaperone rules.

Strampel announced his leave of absence as dean - citing medical reasons - late last year. In February, interim Michigan State President John Engler announced plans to fire Strampel, who still has tenure that protects his employment as a faculty member.

More than 250 girls and women have sued Michigan State, Strampel and other current and former university officials, USA Gymnastics - where Nassar also worked - and others.

John Manly, a lawyer for many of the victims, said his clients were encouraged by the latest arrest. He said it shows that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette "is serious about investigating the systemic misconduct at MSU that led to the largest child sex abuse scandal in history and holding the responsible parties accountable".

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