Michigan State University fined $4.5 million for the Nassar scandal

Michigan State University has been fined 4.5 million U.S. dollars in the case of Larry Nassar, a campus sports doctor who molested elite gymnasts and other female athletes.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the penalty after the conclusion of two federal investigations. She said Nassar’s actions were “disgusting and unimaginable” and that the university’s response fit the same description.

The fine, which will go to the Treasury, is the largest levied under the Clery Act, a law that requires colleges to collect data on campus crime and notify students of threats. The previous largest fine, 2.4 million U.S. dollars, was imposed in 2016 against Pennsylvania State University over its handling of sexual misconduct involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The department’s investigation concluded that Michigan State violated several key parts of the Clery Act along with Title IX, a federal law forbidding discrimination based on gender in education.

In response, the school announced the resignation of its chief academic officer, Provost June Youatt.

President Samuel Stanley Jr. said his predecessor, Lou Anna Simon, and Youatt “failed to take appropriate action,” especially with regard to William Strampel, a medical school dean and Nassar’s boss, who faced his own harassment allegations.

The government’s investigation found Michigan State violated law by failing to disclose crime statistics, failing to issue campus warnings about security threats and failing to establish a system to collect crime statistics. As a remedy, the school says it will hire a Clery compliance officer and create measures to protect athletes and children who participate in youth programs on campus.

A separate Title IX investigation found that Michigan State failed to respond to reports of sexual misconduct against Strampel and Nassar, failed to take interim measures to protect students while complaints against both men were pending, and failed to take steps to end any harassment and prevent it from recurring.

As part of its settlement agreement with the department, Michigan State says it will make “substantial” changes to its Title IX procedures and will provide a process to help victims of Nassar, including offering counseling services, grade changes, tuition reimbursement or the opportunity to retake classes at no cost.

Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting athletes, mostly female gymnasts, at Michigan State and a Lansing-area gymnastics club. Former Olympians said he also molested them in Texas and overseas while he worked for USA Gymnastics.

MSU last year agreed to a 500 million U.S. dollars deal with Nassar’s accusers. Most of the money, 425 million U.S. dollars, was for 333 people, mostly women and girls, who had already sued. MSU so far has settled with 72 people in the second wave of litigation but dozens remain.

( Cover image from VCG )

Source(s): AP