EAST LANSING, Mich. – More than 160 courageous young women faced Larry Nassar in court and told the world how he sexually abused them. Wednesday's sentencing marked the end of a grueling 16-month case.
In addition to the anger pointed at Nassar, the outrage has been directed at the president of Michigan State University and its board of trustees.
On Wednesday night, President Lou Anna K. Simon officially sent in her resignation letter, and the board accepted it.
Simon's resignation comes amid mounting pressure from the student body and lawmakers over the school's handling of the Larry Nassar case.
Throughout Nassar's seven-day sentencing, Simon and the board of trustees seemed to make misstep after misstep.
Simon and board members were repeatedly described as "tone deaf," and damaging comments from longtime trustee Joel Ferguson turned an already smoldering fire into an uncontrollable inferno of anger and disbelief.
In the end, the board of trustees accepted Simon's resignation after previous public shows of support.
"The last year and a half has been very difficult for the victims of Larry Nassar, for the university community, and for me personally," Simon said in her letter. "To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment."
Simon went on to say she had planned to retire in December 2016, but stayed on when the Nassar situation exploded to help the university get through the investigation.
"As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger," Simon's letter says. "I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first."
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. He was previously sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography, and he will be sentenced Jan. 31 in an Eaton County criminal sexual conduct case.
Reaction to Simon's resignation
Here is a statement from Brian Breslin, of the MSU Board of Trustees:
"President Simon has offered her resignation to the Board of Trustees, and we will accept it. We agree with Dr. Simon that it is now time for change.
"President Simon has served with distinction as MSU’s President for 13 years and has been a constant presence at the university for more than 40 years. She literally has devoted her entire professional life to this institution, and more than anyone else has helped make MSU a national and international leader in higher education.
"We will be working through the details of transition with President Simon through the rest of the week and will announce them as soon as we can. Many are aware President Simon delayed returning to the faculty to lead through the challenges the university has been facing. We greatly appreciate her integrity, her many contributions, and her willingness to continue to serve through transition."
Sen. Jim Ananich released the following statement:
"This is a necessary step to take in order for the university to begin seriously addressing a broken system that allowed more than 160 young women to be sexually assaulted by a university employee.
"Survivors deserve to be heard. Survivors also deserve assurance that the people in charge of their education and safety—all the way to the very top—will be held accountable."
Speaker of the House Tom Leonard released the following statement:
"I am glad Lou Anna Simon finally did the right thing. The university's response to this crisis simply hasn't been good enough, and I hope that changes going forward for the sake of both the victims and the entire Michigan State University community. I look forward to working with the new interim president throughout the House’s inquiry and the state budget process to help the university be transparent about what happened over the past 20 years and to improve its Title IX procedures in order to better protect students."
House Democratic leader Sam Singh released the following statement:
"Tonight’s decision by Lou Anna Simon to resign, while difficult, is the right one. With it, our community began the important process of moving forward. Under new leadership, the university must make the necessary changes to ensure something like this never happens again and provide every level of support to the survivors so that they, the institution and our community can begin to heal."