Wednesday 19 September 2018

Michigan state official arrested Larry Nassar investigation

Larry Nassar. Photo: AP
Larry Nassar. Photo: AP

David Eggert

A Michigan State University official who oversaw disgraced gymnastics coach Larry Nassar has been arrested 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 on Tuesday, Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said.

Nassar was given his third long prison sentence in February - 40 to 125 years - for molesting young gymnasts at Twistars, an elite gymnastics club in Michigan.

Mr Strampel was the dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at MSU, 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.

Nassar was fired in 2016 for violating the rule. His dismissal came less than a month after former gymnast Rachael Denhollander filed a criminal complaint saying Nassar had sexually assaulted her with his hands while treating her for back pain years earlier.

Mr 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 school has also come under scrutiny for not sharing the full conclusions of the Title IX investigation with Amanda Thomashow, the woman who complained.

A campus police investigation into Nassar that occurred at the same time resulted in no charges being filed, while a teenager's 2004 complaint to Meridian Township police also led to no charges after Nassar offered an aggressive defence and insisted he was using a legitimate medical technique.

More than 250 girls and women have sued Michigan State, Mr 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 development.

"It demonstrates 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," he said.

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