Survivors of Nassar sexual abuse address MSU's Board Of Trustees

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Victims of Larry Nassar spoke from the heart, often breaking into tears, as they addressed the Michigan State University Board of Trustees Friday, calling out MSU to be accountable for what happened to them under Larry Nassar's care at their university.

The women read from prepared statements, reminding the board what they went through at MSU and what they are still going through today.

They are demanding the release of MSU's internal review conducted by the attorneys of the University.

They are also looking for an independent investigation of MSU by law enforcement.

President Lou Anna Simon acknowledged the women at the beginning of the meeting; she apologized to them and said how critical it is to create an environment where victims can feel safe.

As the board continued through regular business, a Board trustee, also expressing sympathy for the victims, announced that a $10 million fund will be established for counseling and mental health at the university.

Trustee Mitch Lyons added, "We’re going to do what’s right for the victims ahead of the university,” and insists a case like Larry Nassar will never happen again.

The meeting of the Board of Trustees concluded in about one hour.

President Simon released a letter formally apologizing to victims. It reads :

Dear MSU community member:
Last week, former MSU physician Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison; he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. The sentence for possession of child pornography is the first of what I hope will be many lengthy prison sentences.

Nassar preyed on his victims’ dreams and ambitions, changing their lives in terrible ways. Under the guise of medical treatment, he abused his patients for years. “Underneath this veneer lurked a predator,” assistant U.S. attorney Sean Lewis said in a court filing.

While no criminal sentence will ever remedy what the victims lost, it is my sincere hope that it will allow some measure of healing to begin. Today the Board of Trustees announced a $10 million fund for counseling and mental health services as part of our commitment to support Nassar’s victims. This was the first board meeting after mediation ended. The trustees moved promptly to direct the establishment of the fund, as it was the right thing to do for victims regardless of the legal situation.

For me, this situation also reinforces the importance of taking a hard look at ourselves and learning from what happened—because it should never happen again. Since fall 2016, we have engaged external experts to comprehensively review various programs and recommend changes to strengthen our policies and procedures. That includes reviews of our Title IX program, the MSU HealthTeam, and how medical services are provided to student-athletes. Details can be found at the Our Commitment website. While much has been achieved, I understand that strengthening a policy or introducing a new procedure today doesn’t change what happened to these women in the past or the pain they feel.

Nassar’s criminal sentencing is not the end of the matter, and MSU is subject to multiple civil lawsuits. In the months ahead, we can expect to continue to hear a variety of allegations and accusations levelled at the university. Because the university does not litigate in the press, such allegations may go largely unchallenged until or unless the cases reach open court.
That said, last week, I directed our lead attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, for these cases to respond to the Michigan Attorney General’s request for information gathered by Skadden Arps for our legal defense in civil suits. In a letter to the Attorney General, Patrick Fitzgerald stated:

“If…they found any evidence that anyone at MSU other than Nassar knew of Nassar’s criminal behavior and did anything to conceal or facilitate it then that evidence of criminal conduct would be reported immediately to…appropriate law enforcement authorities.…The evidence will show that no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016.”

As said earlier, the FBI and MSU Police also conducted a joint investigation earlier this year looking at whether any university employee engaged in criminal conduct; there were no charges filed. I have complete faith in the legal process, in the professionalism and dedication of law enforcement, and the integrity and commitment of the Michigan Attorney General.

As I have in the past, I want to express my respect and appreciation for the MSU Police who worked tirelessly to help bring Nassar to justice. To the brave young women who came forward about Nassar, you have my deepest thanks, respect, and sympathy. I am truly sorry for the abuse you suffered, the pain it caused, and the pain it still causes. I am sorry a physician who called himself a Spartan so utterly betrayed your trust and everything this university stands for.