CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — A hearing has begun to determine if former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon will face trial in a case related to the Larry Nassar scandal.
Authorities say Simon knew in 2014 that Nassar was at the center of a Title IX investigation prompted by Amanda Thomashow. But Simon told police she knew only that a complaint had been filed against a sports doctor.
“Why did the defendant lie? Because, as I’ve said, MSU’s image and reputation and the defendant’s legacy are inextricably linked,” Michigan Assistant Attorney General Scott Teter told the Eaton County judge Tuesday morning.
The prosecution presented evidence a senior adviser, Paulette Granberry Russell, set up a meeting with Simon in May 2014 after being notified about the Nassar case by Title IX investigator Kristine Moore.
Simon’s defense team argued they will prove the meeting did not take place. One of her attorneys, Mayor Morganroth, said he believes the charges are politically-motivated.
“The amount of lying that’s been done is overwhelming, but not by Lou Anna Simon, but by the prosecution and the detectives,” Morganroth told the judge.
Her attorneys also objected to Thomashow testifying Tuesday, arguing it wasn’t relevant to the charges against the former president. The judge disagreed.
Thomashow recounted the abuse and her subsequent reporting. In July 2014, Moore asked her to meet again.
“I was under the impression I was going in as a follow-up,” Thomashow said. “She started showing me where he touched me and I realized at that moment she was explaining to me that I hadn’t been sexually assaulted.”
Moore’s investigation found Nassar did not commit misconduct and could return to work. She will be one of the people called to testify as the hearing continues, according to Teter’s opening statement. He also said Granberry Russell, Simon’s former administrative assistant and the investigators she is accused of lying to will be other witnesses for the prosecution.
Simon’s preliminary hearing will continue April 8.