Over the past week, 159 women gave victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing of the notorious serial rapist, Larry Nassar. The 159 women represent just those who volunteered to come forward. Given this, it’s not hard to fathom that Nassar sexually assaulted over 200 women over the past twenty years. He did this when most of them were young girls, many in their very early teens. Some of the sexual assaults – I will call them rapes – occurred while at least one of parents of the victim was present. Larry Nassar was that diabolical.
In other words, this is the biggest serial rapist crime in American history. Not in “sports history”. In American history. Period.
During her final comments on the record, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed once again why she is such a hero in this story. Not only did she permit any woman assaulted by Nassar to be heard in her court, she made it clear that, moving forward, she would do no interviews with the media without at least one his victims beside her. “I will have a survivor beside me because this is their story,” she said.
Nassar will never leave prison. He’s been given 60 years on child pornography charges and Judge Aquilina gave him 40-175 years more. She also cautioned him to stop treating other inmates in prison because “you are not a doctor.”
She’s right on two counts. Nassar is not a doctor because his license has been revoked. But he’s also not a doctor because he is, in fact, a monster. He’s a man who not only ignores the primary promise of the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm”, over the past two decades he has inflicted some of the deepest harms imaginable.
We can only hope that he doesn’t waste anyone’s time with an appeal.
Michigan State University, however, still remains to be held accountable. Women have been complaining to them about Nassar for as long as he has been sexually assaulting them and University officials have done absolutely nothing to stop this monster from continuing to prey on vulnerable girls. In fact, MSU allowed Nassar to keep treating patients for a year and a half while he was under criminal investigation. At least one of his victims continues to get medical bills from MSU for the “treatment” she received from Nassar.
Not only has MSU circled the wagons and denied having any knowledge whatsoever of Nassar’s two decade-long serial raping spree, Joel Ferguson, the vice chair of the MSU Board of Trustees dismissed the largest serial rape crime in our country’s history as “this Nassar thing” during a sports radio show this week. Vociferously defending MSU President Lou Anna Simon, Ferguson said, “There’s so many more things going on at the university than just this Nassar thing.”
Ferguson walked back his disgusting flippancy today. Not in person, of course, but through a spokesperson. He said that “he recognizes the suffering of these young women and had intended to refer to it as ‘the Nassar tragedy’.” But what Ferguson doesn’t apologize for are other remarks made during the radio program where it is clear that he and all but one of the other MSU Trustees want to keep Simon on as president because she’s their moneymaker:
I mean, when you go to the basketball game, you walk into the new Breslin, and the person who hustled and got all those major donors to give money was Lou Anna Simon. There’s just so many things that make up being president at a university that keeps everything moving and everything right with the deans, everything at a school where we have a waiting list of students who want to come.
In his mind and in the mind of the other six Trustees who support him, Simon’s ability to raise money for the university is more important than being held accountable for a serial rapist’s twenty year career sexually assaulting students and patients at her institution, most of which occurred while she was at the helm.
Asked if he thought that the NCAA should investigate MSU’s connections to Nassar’s crimes, Ferguson literally laughed. “This is not Penn State. They were dealing with their football program… They’re smart enough to know they’re not competent to walk in here on this.
One day later, in a sharp rebuke to Ferguson’s continued disgusting flippancy, MSU received official word that they ARE, in fact, under investigation by the NCAA.
Like Joel Ferguson, I am a Democrat. I am also an MSU Spartan with an Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from their undergraduate program and a Masters in Business Administration from their Eli Broad College of Business. Ferguson was elected to the board 32 years ago, the same year I graduated with my Chemistry degree. Despite these connections, I join MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons, a Republican, in calling for President Simon’s resignation. I also call upon the rest of the Board of Trustees to immediately start prioritizing the physical safety of the young men and women at their institution over the money-making, deal-making, and promotional skills of their president. I don’t disagree that Ms. Simon has been an exemplary president in pretty much all other ways. But, in this case, this one “mistake” — a word that is completely inadequate to describe her failure — absolutely eclipses her other contributions.
Over 200 young girls were raped by an MSU “doctor” over twenty years. During that time, complaints were filed and then ignored. MSU must pay a severe price for this and it should start at the top.
UPDATE: A second MSU Trustee, Dianne Byrum, has now called for Simon to step down.
Additionally, under the leadership of Rep. Adam Zemke, the state House has also passed resolution calling for Simon to either step down or be fired. It’s non-binding but sends a strong message, particularly since the vote was 96-11.
Carter has been the faculty’s athletic representative since 2014 and also is chairperson for the Athletic Council, which functions as the faculty voice in intercollegiate athletics on issues of academic policy related to student-athletes.
On Monday, that group issued a statement — written by Carter — saying Michigan State failed the women that were abused by Nassar.
UPDATE 2: President Simon has resigned.
However, her resignation is not an apology and has no admission that she had any role to play. Rather Simon calls the most heinous serial rape crime in our country “politicized”. That, to me, is nearly as disgusting as not stepping down at all:
Members of the Board of Trustees:
The last year and a half has been very difficult for the victims of Larry Nassar, for the university community, and for me personally. To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment. I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere.
As you and many in the Spartan family know, I planned to retire in December 2016, and we had begun a conversation about a smooth transition. Then the Indianapolis Star article appeared about USAG and one of the victims contacted MSU police to file a complaint. The MSU Police investigation commenced. Nassar’s employment was terminated shortly thereafter. Work began within the HealthTeam and other areas of the university to improve safety. Given the challenges, my transition was postponed. I appreciate the support you provided.
The survivors’ accounts are horrific. They are tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching. I take solace that many victims have indicated that the opportunity to confront Nassar is a step toward healing. I am proud of the exceptional work of the Special Victims Unit led by Lieutenant Andrea Munford with the steadfast leadership of Chief Dunlap. I am proud of my support of their work even though the results have been very painful to all who watched.
As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me. I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up. I support wholeheartedly the Board’s decision to ask the Attorney General’s Office to review the events surrounding the Nassar matter. This is an important step toward providing more assurance to the university community and to the public. In the past, I have provided assurances to the Attorney General of my full cooperation, and I will continue to do so.
As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first. Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU. I have tried to make it not about me. I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a principled person. I have spent my entire professional career, more than 40 years, at MSU. I love this place. I have watched it grow and prosper, and it has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve as its president since 2005, and over the last few years, to have the opportunity to work with all of you toward our shared goals for MSU. I will continue to do whatever I can to help MSU prosper in the future as a Spartan in whatever role I may play.
Lou Anna K. Simon, President
John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor
I’d also like to add that, in addition to Simon, MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis should be tendering his resignation, as well.