Credo Action

Demand accountability for culture of sexual assault at Michigan State

Sign the petition

Tell the relevant authorities at Michigan State University:

“Immediately remove every university employee or representative who was aware of sexual assault happening on the Michigan State University campus but did nothing to stop it.”

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    Demand accountability for culture of sexual assault at Michigan State

    It was a powerful convening of survivors. More than 150 women made statements about Larry Nassar’s decades of abuse at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University before a Michigan judge sentenced him to spend the rest of his life in prison. Nassar was a serial abuser who routinely assaulted his patients under the guise of “care.” He got away with it for so long because the people with the power to stop him turned a blind eye to his abuse.

    News recently broke that at least 14 MSU officials knew about Nassar’s crimes.1 But their enabling of Nassar appears to be only the tip of the iceberg. In-depth reporting by ESPN shows that there is a long history of various MSU officials mishandling and covering up assault. Relevant authorities at MSU must hold any person who knew about this toxic culture but did nothing accountable.

    Tell MSU authorities: Hold anyone who helped perpetuate a culture of assault and abuse at MSU fully accountable.

    Already a number of top MSU officials, including the president and athletics director, have resigned in the wake of Nassar’s sentencing but not a single person has been fired.2 This is despite the fact that:

    • Six women said they complained to MSU staffers, from coaches to trainers, about Nassar’s abuse, some as long as 20 years ago. Some were told they were receiving valid medical treatments, while others were discouraged from reporting. Many of those staffers still work for MSU.3
    • In 2014, MSU Title IX’s office resolved a complaint because it found that the complainant was confused about the “‘nuanced difference’ between an osteopathic medical procedure and sexual assault.” MSU officials promoted Kristine Moore, the Title IX investigator. She is now MSU's assistant general counsel.4
    • MSU let Nassar practice for 16 months while he was under criminal investigation by the MSU Police Department. The department asked local authorities to charge Nassar with sexual assault, but MSU still allowed Nassar to continue seeing patients.5
    • Dr. William Strampel, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, blocked Nassar from seeing patients after MSU started its Title IX investigation. After Moore resolved the complaint, Strampel allowed Nassar to see patients again. He ordered Nassar to have another person in the exam room with him and “limit skin-to-skin contact,” but later told police he never intended to make sure Nasser had met those conditions. Strampel recently resigned.6
    • MSU failed to hand over its Nassar files to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights when it was conducting a Title IX investigation of the school.7

    If any of the officials at MSU who were aware of Nasser’s behavior had been brave enough to stand up, he would not have been able to continue his predation.

    MSU is a major player in collegiate athletics. Its basketball program is one of the marquee programs in the NCAA. If we can force the university – through massive public outcry – to pursue total accountability, it could have a positive ripple effect and send an unmistakable message across the NCAA and the American sports landscape.

    Tell MSU authorities: Hold anyone who helped perpetuate a culture of assault and abuse at MSU fully accountable.

    It’s not just Larry Nassar. Last week, ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported on a widespread and long-standing culture at MSU of denying, suppressing and failing to act on reports of violence and sexual assault on campus, especially when they involve athletes.8 Their allegations implicate the MSU football, basketball and Title IX programs as well as campus police. ESPN found 16 accusations against football players since current coach Mark Dantonio arrived in 2007.9 It also uncovered allegations against players as well as a student-assistant coach in Tom Izzo’s basketball program.10

    In 2014, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights began an investigation into how MSU handled violence and sexual assault claims. The results highlight that "a sexually hostile environment existed for and affected numerous students and staff on campus," and MSU's "failure to address complaints of sexual harassment, including sexual violence, in a prompt and equitable manner caused and may have contributed to a continuation of this sexually hostile environment."11 While MSU agreed to make improvements, it is not clear if they have done so.

    Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of education who is from Michigan, has already made clear her disdain for Title IX, so we cannot count on the Department of Education to use its authority to hold MSU accountable.12 We need to generate massive pressure now to force MSU hold everyone accountable for Nasser’s abuse.

    The more of us who sign, the more powerful that message will be. Can you help to demand that MSU hold anyone who helped perpetuate a culture of assault and abuse fully accountable? Add your name to the petition, and we’ll deliver your signature to the MSU Board of Trustees.

    Thank you for everything you do.

    1. Kim Kozlowski, "What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse," The Detroit News, Jan. 18, 2018.
    2. Dan Murphy, "Michigan State AD Mark Hollis resigns," ESPN, Jan. 26, 2018.
    3. John Barr and Dan Murphy, "Nassar surrounded by adults who enabled his predatory behavior," ESPN, Jan. 16, 2018.
    4. Jean Casarez et al., "She filed a complaint against Larry Nassar in 2014. Nothing happened," CNN, Feb. 1, 2018.
    5. Matt Mencarini, "MSU let Larry Nassar see patients for 16 months during criminal sex assault investigation," Lansing State Journal, Dec. 20, 2017.
    6. Matt Mencarini, "Woman who reported Nassar in 2014: 'It destroyed me but I lived',” Lansing State Journal, Jan. 16, 2018.
    7. Paula Lavigne and Nicole Noren, "OTL: Michigan State secrets extend far beyond Larry Nassar case," ESPN, Feb. 1, 2018.
    8. Ibid.
    9. Ibid.
    10. Ibid.
    11. Ibid.
    12. Stephanie Saul and Kate Taylor, "Betsy DeVos Reverses Obama-era Policy on Campus Sexual Assault Investigations," The New York Times, Sept. 22, 2017.