MSU dean accused of saying victims lied

Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 6:36 PM EDT
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"Don't trust your patients -- patients lie to get doctors in trouble." The Wall Street Journal said those words came from the mouth of William Strampel, dean of Michigan State's College of Osteopathic Medicine and former boss of Larry Nassar. That's only one of the quotes that have people upset at MSU.

News 10's Alani Letang talked with some of them.

Dr. Strampel's personnel file shows he's been on medical leave since December 14th, 2017. It also includes a series of glowing reviews for his work as dean. After hearing about the article in the Wall Street Journal many members of the MSU community tell News 10 they want him off the payroll.

"People shouldn't be able to just step down. You step down you still have all these benefits, you still have positions on this board. There needs to be real punishment for people that are enabling this kind of behavior," said Erica Caschalk, MSU student.

By "this kind of behavior" MSU senior Erica Caschalk is referring to the story that Dr. William Strampel allegedly told a group of four students that Larry Nassar's victims were lying and hadn't been sexually assaulted by the former sports physician.

News 10 also called Rachel Denhollander, the first of Nassar's survivors to sue in civil court. She told us that Strampel's his words mirror other comments made by authorities on campus.

"It's horrific what Strampel said but the Board of Trustees said we were ambulance chasers looking for a payday, that's no different. John Engler went before the Senate to the higher education committee and lied about the legislation saying we were supported being drafted by California attorneys it wasn't. It was put forward by me. And so you really see a constant pattern at MSU in people in authority lying about the survivors and attacking the survivors' character. Dean Strampel is one of many" said Rachel Denhollander, Larry Nassar survivor.

The paper also quotes Strampel as saying he didn't want to fire Nassar but had no choice because he didn't have chaperones in the room during exams. This was something Strampel required Nassar to do after a 2014 sex-assault investigation that did not lead to criminal charges.

The alleged quote, "now they see an opening to take advantage of him," was something Denhollander said is another way of attacking victims.

"It is incredibly discouraging and it's incredibly hurtful to all of these women and more than anything it's terrifying to know that the culture is not changing and that someone like Larry could easily flourish on that campus, right now," said Denhollander.

"If you aren't listening to survivors, you just as much a part of the problem and you're enabling that kind of behavior and we have to absolutely start listening to them if anything is going to change," Caschalk added.

Strampel being on faculty is not only frustrating students but other employees as well. They told us that getting rid of him is a necessary step toward accountability by MSU.

"It is his job to take responsibility for his faculty, and do the right thing, to step down, to excuse himself from this situation and to cooperate in any way possible," said Patty Bonito, MSU faculty member.

The article also says Strampel offered to let students practice prostate and rectal exams on him. It says other osteopaths consider it inappropriate for a professor to do that. Strampel is one of the defendants in the lawsuits filed by more than 100 Larry Nassar survivors.

Michigan State has started the process of firing Strampel, but it's expected to take around a year because he has tenure.

The university also said he is not on campus and it not interacting with students while he is on medical leave.

MSU interim president John Engler said, "William Strampel did not act with the level of professionalism we would expect from individuals who hold a senior leadership position, particularly in a position that involves student and patient safety. We are sending an unmistakable message that we will remove employees who do not treat students, faculty, staff or anyone else in our community in the appropriate manner."

MSU Spokesperson Emily Guerrant said that Strampel is also under investigation by the office of institutional equity, to terminate his position.

We'll keep you updated on the situation.