Testimony: Women intimidated by ex-dean’s power

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A former Michigan State University dean told a medical student “I own you” in a recording that’s now evidence in his criminal trial.

The recording and two accounts of feeling intimidated into silence were among the testimony heard Monday in William Strampel’s trial. He faces prison time for accusations that he sexually harassed students and failed to properly oversee Larry Nassar during his time as head of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Three witnesses — two former students and Strampel’s longtime administrative assistant — took the stand Monday.

The first student asked to not be filmed, so 24 Hour News 8 is not publicly identifying her. 

Over the course of her schooling, she failed two classes. Each time, she needed Strampel’s approval to continue with the program, which led to four meetings with him. The woman, who is now a second-year resident at a hospital on the east side of the state, testified that Strampel made inappropriate comments about other students’ virginity and one who was “stripping her way through med school” during one of the meetings.

Her first three interactions with him prompted her to record their fourth meeting in May 2015, she said. The recording was played for the jury, but much of it was difficult to hear from the gallery. 24 Hour News 8’s request for a copy of the recording was denied by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. A request for the transcript was pending Monday.

“If I do this, I’m going to own you,” Strampel said at one point during the recording. “I’m taking a hell of a risk.”

His defense attorney John Dakmak pointed out no sexual undertones were heard on the recording.

Strampel also made statements about the student having to do favors for him, like gardening, if he were to let her continue in the program.

“No, he did not,” shet said when Dakmak asked if Strampel ever actually made her do anything after giving his approval.

Dakmak also questioned the second former student on the stand, Dr. Jessica Neuroth, about plans to sue Strampel and MSU. He told the judge it could impact her testimony.

“Undecided,” Neuroth argued. “I haven’t made a decision yet.”

Neuroth alleged Strampel groped her backside while she posed with him for a photo alongside a scholarship donor. He let go once the photo was done, she testified.

“Can you help me understand why you didn’t confront him?” Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark asked.

“He had already told us that he held my entire future in his hands, so I felt I could not actually confront him on what he did to me,” Neuroth responded.

She testified he previously told her he could ruin someone’s career and that she needed to become more submissive toward men if she wanted to succeed in the program.

Strampel’s former administrative assistant, Kimberly Lamacchia, also sat in the witness box Monday. She said that in the 19 years she worked for him, no one ever left his office and complained to her about comments or behavior.

The trial started last week. Testimony will continue Tuesday. Dr. Nicole Eastman, who previously spoke exclusively with 24 Hour News 8 about an alleged assault, is expected to testify. She was expected on the stand Monday, but court adjourned for the day at 1:30 p.m.

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