Michigan State University grapples with three sex scandals in one week

Michigan State, the school that employed serial pedophile Larry Nassar, has already been forced to grapple with three sex scandals this week. And it’s only Tuesday.

by Carter Sherman
Jun 6 2018, 1:54am

Michigan State University, the school that once employed serial pedophile Larry Nassar, has already been forced to grapple with three sex scandals this week. And it’s only Tuesday.

On Monday, MSU physicist Joseph Hattey was charged with bestiality. On Tuesday, former MSU dean William Strampler headed to court to face criminal charges of sexual harassment and assault. And that same day, former MSU president Lou Anna Simon publicly apologized to Congress for Nassar’s crimes.

Here’s what you need to know about each of the scandals.

Joseph Hattey

The Michigan Attorney General’s office charged Hattey on Monday with two felony counts of committing a crime against nature, for allegedly penetrating a dog with both his hand and his penis. Hattey didn’t conduct the alleged acts on campus, or with a university-owned dog, according to a press release by the attorney general’s office.

In a statement to Detroit’s Fox 2, MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant said that the MSU Police Department first learned of the investigation into Hattey in mid-April, and immediately put Hattey on administrative suspension. She also noted that Hattey’s job didn’t require him to work with animals, patients, or students.

“The university has been and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials on this matter,” Guerrant said.

William Strampel

As the former dean of Michigan State University’s school of osteopathic medicine, Strampel was tasked with overseeing Nassar. But after MSU’s Title IX investigated an allegation that Nassar touched a patient sexually in 2014, Strampel let Nassar start practicing medicine again in July 2014, according to a criminal complaint filed against Strampel in March. Twelve more assaults took place after that allegation, the Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday, however, Strampel was in court for a preliminary hearing on a few unrelated charges. While he’s facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly mishandling that 2014 complaint, Strampel is also charged with sexually harassing and assaulting four female students. He asked students for naked photos and sexual favors, and grabbed two students’ buttocks without their consent, according to the complaint against Strampel.

Two women testified during the hearing that Strampel had indirectly propositioned them for sex, while a third said he groped her in public, according to the Lansing State Journal. The prosecution also showed the courtroom several photos and videos from Strampel’s work computer, including images of vaginas and pornography.

Judge Richard Ball ruled that there was enough evidence to move forward with a trial for Strampel, who has pled not guilty.

MSU’s interim president John Engler condemned Strampel in a statement at the time of his arrest.

"While the crimes of one doctor and the misconduct of his dean do not represent our university,” Engler said, “they do demand the scrutiny of everyone in order to assure individuals like these can never be in a position to harm others.”

Lou Anna Simon

Nassar is now locked behind bars in a maximum security prison, but his legacy lingers. MSU has so far paid out $500 to hundreds of Nassar survivors, as part of a settlement thought to be the largest ever reached by an American university in a sexual abuse case.

“I am truly sorry for the abuse the survivors of Nassar suffered, the pain it caused, and the pain it continues to cause today,” Simon told the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security during a Tuesday hearing on preventing abuse in sports, according to public copy of her remarks. “I am sorry a university employee so utterly betrayed the survivors’ trust and everything for which MSU stands.”

The hearing, which several Nassar survivors attended, didn’t go so well for Simon, who resigned the same day Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. Michigan’s Democratic Sen. Gary Peters called MSU’s attitude towards Nassar a “catastrophic institutional failure,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Nassar didn’t get away with his abhorrent behavior for years on his own,” Peters said.

Simon didn’t appear in front of the committee voluntarily, Subcommittee Chairman and Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran told the hearing audience, according to a prepared version of his comments. Instead, she attended only after she was subpoenaed.

Read more: States are trying to make it easier to punish the next Larry Nassar

Cover image: A Michigan State fan reacts to the action on the court during the NCAA Division I Men's Championship Second Round basketball game between the Syracuse Orange and the Michigan State Spartans on March 18, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Syracuse defeated Michigan State 55-53. Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.