GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Emails between Michigan State University officials show a lack of urgency in monitoring Larry Nassar and his superiors after a 2014 Title IX investigation found he could continue seeing patients at the school’s sports medicine clinic.
Earlier this week, the Detroit Free Press reported the university fired its law firm after an attorney argued criminal charges against former MSU Dean William Strampel were unfounded because he was following university orders.
He was referring to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, alleging Strampel never enforced new protocols put in place after the 2014 investigation.
“That was actually the responsibility of the Title IX investigator,” attorney John Dakmak told reporters after Strampel’s arraignment in March. “My client was following the direction of the Title IX investigation.”
The investigation started after Amanda Thomashow reported Nassar for assaulting her during an appointment. Kristine Moore was the Title IX investigator who handled it, which resulted in two reports.
Moore’s version of the report that circulated internally recommended changes be made to avoid future liability.
According to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Strampel and Nassar agreed on the following when he returned to work:
- Have another person in the room when treating a patient in a sensitive area;
- Modify the “procedure which caused the patient emotional distress because of her interpretation” and avoid skin to skin contact. If it’s necessary, the procedure needs to be explained in detail;
- New people at the clinic will be made aware of the new requirements.
While there has been no documentation proving Strampel circled back to make sure the new guidelines were being enforced, additional emails reveal others at the university did not check to ensure the changes were implemented.
Strampel sent Moore Nassar’s new protocols on July 30, 2014. Moore forwarded the email to Theresa Kelley. Kelley was and still is an associate general counsel for the university. Additionally, Moore now works as an assistant general counsel.
A day later, Kelley followed up with Strampel. Her email read in part, “I just want to close the loop on this matter. One of the recommendations of the I3’s report was to ensure patient complaints of this type get referred to an appropriate person at the practice. Is that something you want to cover with Jeff Kovan or I can…”
Kovan was the director of the clinic at the time and still works at MSU. He was cleared by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in July as part of multiple investigations into MSU officials.
The next email in the correspondence obtained from MSU came from Moore. Nearly a month after Kelley’s email to Strampel she asked Kelley, “did you ever hear anything?”
Kelley responded to Moore the next day, Aug. 30, 2014, “Of course not.”
The emails were obtained through an open records request Target 8 sent to the university in January 2018. The request asked for copies of any correspondence that discussed Nassar from several employees over several years.
It resulted in more than 7,000 documents. Based on other emails obtained through the same request, any additional correspondence beyond Aug. 30 should have also been sent to Target 8.
MSU was asked if there was ever follow up after Kelley’s three-word response to Moore.
A university spokesperson released the following statement Friday:
“Yes, it is common practice for the general counsel office to be involved in Title IX investigations. The general counsel’s office advises when needed on implementations of policies and of findings. I am not sure if Strampel ever acknowledged that last email from Theresa – nothing provided to you in the FOIA shows that he did. But if a verbal conversation had taken place, I am not aware of it.
“Regarding the Free Press story, we don’t believe the situation was portrayed accurately. The story suggests that Clark Hill was replaced after one of their lawyers made a statement that implicated our General Counsel’s Office. We do not agree that was what was said, nor the reason Clark Hill was replaced.
“Clark Hill actually stated that Strampel (a Clark Hill client) shouldn’t be convicted because he was following the orders of Kristine Moore (also a Clark Hill client). We feel that creates conflict between two of their clients (Strampel and Moore). A law firm cannot do that. When Clark Hill was advised of the conflict it created, Clark Hill stated that it was choosing to represent Strampel. Given Clark Hill’s creation of the conflict and choosing to represent Strampel, MSU decided to change representation for the individuals so there would be no other conflicts.”