Recordings show coworker defending Nassar after firing


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the Michigan State University doctors who worked closely with Larry Nassar spent much of his interview with MSU police defending his colleague.

Dr. Jeffrey Kovan has since said he no longer supports Nassar, but the 2016 recordings obtained through the Freedom of Information Act hold a much different tone.

Kovan is one of seven MSU employees currently being investigated by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

“He’s not the person that’s ever gonna harm or hurt anybody,” Kovan told investigators shortly after the university fired Nassar. “If it ever happened, it was never intended. I truly believe that about him. That being said wonderful, wonderful people sometimes do crazy things.”

Kovan answered questions for just over 30 minutes. They discussed several things, including the 2014 Title IX investigation prompted by Amanda Thomashow. She went to Kovan after being assaulted during an appointment.

“She came to me with the complaint and then we moved up from that,” Kovan confirmed for investigators.

He explained the timeline Thomashow laid out for him before going to his superiors. Nassar was suspended during the investigation. He was ultimately cleared, but new protocols were supposed to be put in place to prevent future complaints.

According to Kovan, no one but Nassar and his then-boss William Strampel knew about the new policies. That included keeping a chaperone in the room and explaining everything thoroughly before treating a patient.

“When the university decided to terminate him, we were livid about it, livid,” Kovan recounted. “Because we hadn’t been communicated with about it at all and you just fired our partner and you didn’t even talk to us about it… There was this expectation that he was going to follow these guidelines or he would no longer practice or something to that affect… None of us knew that.”

The university cited the policies in their decision to fire Nassar after determining he never followed them.

Potential policy changes were another item Kovan discussed with investigators. He complained about the possibility of requiring a chaperone in the room at all times.

“Now what were really saying is, whenever you touch a patient you better have somebody in the room because you’re liable. There’s a chance you could be called out on it, so I’d say forget about manipulation. If you’re gonna touch a patient, we’re crossing that line because that’s where we’re at,” Kovan said. “Now this is extreme, but if we’re gonna start making those kind of statements that the university chooses to, they’re gonna have trouble keeping us here because we can’t afford to have a chaperone in every room.”

Kovan is still the Director of Sports Medicine and Performance for Michigan State athletics.

The other MSU employees being investigated by LARA are:

  • Dr. William Strampel — MSU recently reached an agreement for his retirement while he faces his own criminal case.
  • Destiny Teachnor-Hauk — She’s been named as being told about Nassar’s abuse more than a decade ago and defended him during the 2014 investigation.
  • Lianna Hadden — Two women have said they told Hadden about Nassar’s abuse more than a decade ago.
  • Dr. Gary Stollak — He is a former MSU clinical psychologist who was told about Nassar’s abuse in 2004.
  • Dr. Douglas Dietzel — He is the head of the MSU Sports Medicine clinic, where Nassar worked.
  • Dr. Brooke Lemmen — She resigned from the university after the Nassar investigation began. She also defended Nassar during the 2014 investigation.

24 Hour News 8 also has recordings with Lemmen and Dietzel. They are being reviewed. Check back for updates.

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