In a report by the U.S. Department of Education, Michigan State University was found to have handled sexual assault reports related to former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar in a way that “may have posed an ongoing threat” to the campus community, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The report shows the results of an investigation conducted in the wake of the Nassar scandal and the school’s compliance with a law known as the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information. The Clery Act is, at its core, a consumer protection law, which is meant to provide transparency to students and their families about the safety of a campus and the surrounding community.
When it comes to Nassar, who sexually abused hundreds of athletes under his care, the report suggests that Michigan State failed to properly categorize and disclose complaints against him. It lists 11 Nassar victims, cited in the report as Survivor A, Survivor B and so on, who reported Nassar’s abuse to campus officials, including some claims that were reported directly to campus security authorities, who have safety-related job functions.
“There is no question that the details of the crimes reported by Survivors A, B, C, D and E were communicated to officials who were” campus security authorities, the report said.
“Additionally, each of these crime victims reported conduct that clearly rose to the level of a Forcible Sex Offense or an incident of Fondling. Moreover, the crimes reported by these individuals … unquestionably posed a serious, ongoing threat to campus community members, and, most specifically, to female patients of MSU Sports Medicine,” it continued.
University spokesperson Emily Guerrant said that MSU received the report in December, and that it knows mistakes were made.
“We know we’ve failed survivors and their families,” she told the Free Press.
The school has between 60 and 90 days to issue a response to the report, at which point the Department of Education can either make changes to its report or return to campus for further investigation and issue another letter. The department could at that point seek to impose a fine up to a maximum of $55,907 per violation, which MSU may then appeal.
Former Department of Education secretary Arne Duncan determined several years ago that any violent crime, including sexual assault, that isn’t properly reported would be subject to the maximum penalty. However, the final decision regarding how much MSU would pay could be determined by current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a longtime Michigan State donor.