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The former president of Michigan State University will finally stand trial for how much she knew about sexual assault allegations against USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Prosecutors hit Lou Anna Simon with four charges, including two felonies, in November of last year for allegedly lying to the cops in 2018 about whether she knew about a sexual assault complaint against Nassar. After a preliminary investigation, a judge ruled Monday that prosecutors had established probable cause that Simon had lied and sent the case to the circuit court for trial.
Simon, who has pleaded not guilty, could wind up with a prison sentence of up to four years and a $5,000 fine.
In her decision, Eaton County Judge Julie Reincke relied on notes, submitted as evidence, from the 2014 meeting that read “Sports Med, Dr. Nassar, SA,” with “SA” standing for “sexual assault.”
“There is probable cause to believe that defendant concealed the information voluntarily and intentionally with the intent to deceive,” Reincke wrote in her opinion Monday.
Prosecutors allege that during a 2014 meeting with the university’s department that handles sexual assault complaints, Simon was told about Nassar. But Simon claimed that during the course of the criminal investigation into Nassar, she only knew that a sports medicine doctor was under investigation but didn’t know about any of the details or who the alleged abuser was.
"We plan to vigorously defend Dr. Simon and will be appealing the decision of the district court," Simon’s attorney, Lee Silver, told The Detroit News. "We remain confident that we will ultimately prevail and that Lou Anna Simon will be fully acquitted of these charges.”
Simon was one of 14 Michigan State staffers who knew about Nassar’s abusive behavior, according to a Detroit News investigation. And she’s not the only one facing charges for allegedly lying.
Kathie Klages, the school’s former gymnastics coach, is also facing charges that she lied to the cops about how much she knew back in 1997. And William Strampel, the former dean of students at the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, was slapped with an 11-month prison sentence for using his position to proposition women and failing to make sure Nassar was following protocols.
Simon resigned from her position as university president in January 2018, following Nassar’s conviction and allegations that she didn’t do enough to hold the doctor accountable. But before she left, she secured the title of president emeritus and a $2.45 million retirement salary.
Cover image: Former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon appears in District Judge Julie Reincke's courtroom, for the first day of her preliminary hearing, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Charlotte, Mich. (Dale G. Young/Detroit News via AP)