FILE - In this June 5, 2018 file photo, former Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon testifies before a Senate subcommittee in Washington. Simon has been charged with lying to police conducting an investigation of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. Simon, who stepped down earlier this year over the scandal, was charged Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, with two felonies and two misdemeanors. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Ex-Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation of the handling of serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar — the third current or former campus official other than Nassar to face criminal charges in the scandal.

Simon, who stepped down under pressure in January, spoke with state police investigators on May 1. She is accused of making two false and misleading statements — that she was unaware of the nature of a sexual misconduct complaint that sparked the school’s 2014 Title IX probe of Nassar, and that she only knew a sports medicine doctor, not Nassar himself, was under investigation at that time.

If convicted of two felony and two misdemeanour counts of lying to a peace officer, the 71-year-old Simon faces up to four years in prison. The Mason resident is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in Eaton County near Lansing.

RELATED: USOC moves to shut down USA Gymnastics after Nassar scandal

One of her attorneys, Lee Silver, called the charges “completely baseless” and said he had not seen a “shred of evidence” to support them.

“In my opinion, the real crime here is that these charges are even being brought,” he said. “We are confident that when we have our day in court, Dr. Simon will be exonerated and these charges will be proven to have no merit.”

University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said Simon, who stayed on at MSU to do research while preparing for a return to teaching, is taking an immediate unpaid leave of absence from her $750,000-a-year job “to focus on her legal situation.”

The charges were filed by special independent counsel Bill Forsyth, who was appointed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate Michigan State’s handling of Nassar. Forsyth declined comment.

Simon is the fifth person to be criminally charged in the wake of Nassar’s convictions for molesting young female athletes under the guise of treatment. Numerous other people have lost their jobs or have been sued.

In June, Simon told a congressional committee that she was “horrified” that Nassar’s crimes occurred during her tenure and had she known he was sexually abusing young women, “I would have taken immediate action to prevent him from preying on additional victims.” She also told senators that when she was informed of the Title IX probe in 2014, she knew it involved a “sports medicine physician” but did not know Nassar was the one under review.

RELATED: Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to settle Nassar claims with 332 victim

In August, Schuette charged former MSU gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages with lying to an investigator when she denied that witnesses told her years ago about being sexually assaulted by Nassar. In March, the ex-dean of the osteopathic medicine school, William Strampel , was charged with neglecting his duty to enforce examining-room restrictions imposed on Nassar after the 2014 Title IX investigation.

That probe, initiated by a patient, resulted in the school clearing Nassar. He was fired in 2016 after another victim went public and filed Title IX and police complaints.

In Texas, former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny was charged last month with tampering with evidence while a former sports medicine trainer, Debra Van Horn , was charged in June with “acting as a party” with Nassar in the sexual assault of a child.

Hundreds of girls and women have said Nassar molested them when he was a physician, including while he worked at Michigan State and Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians. Nassar, 55, last year pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting nine victims and possessing child pornography, and his sentences equate to life in prison.

The Michigan State scandal has been likened to the one at Penn State University, where former president Graham Spanier and two other ex-administrators were prosecuted for child endangerment for not reporting a 2001 complaint about a sexual abuse allegation involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

___

David Eggert, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Grade 7 Trafalgar students show off posters they put up around downtown Nelson with information about residential schools. Photo: Tyler Harper
Trafalgar class puts up residential school history posters downtown

The Grade 7 students made their own websites and QR codes

The Capitol Theatre has been transformed into a courtroom for the trial of Const. Jason Tait that started on Sept. 28 and continues. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Defence begins presenting evidence in Nelson jury trial of RCMP officer

Const. Jason Tait is charged with manslaughter after a Castlegar incident in 2015

The West Kootenay Cycling Coalition says GoByBike Week was a success. Photo: Submitted
A round of applause for GoByBike Week supporters

Nearly 200 cyclists participated

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read