Michigan State University hit with record-breaking fine over Nassar investigation

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University has been fined a record $4.5 million in connection with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

ORIGINAL STORY: Michigan State University fined $4.5M in sex assault case against Larry Nassar

According to authorities, the rationale for the record-breaking fine starts with how the school handled a report of Nassar's abuse in 2014. The report refers to Nassar as Employee X.

The Office for Civil Rights found MSU failed to take appropriate interim measures to protect its students.

The document goes on to list multiple ways the university clumsily investigated Nassar. 

The document alleges former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon and former provost June Youatt did nothing after receiving complaints about former dean William Strampel's inappropriate language and behavior toward women for 16 years.

Youatt resigned from her position Thursday. About a month ago, Strampel was sentenced to one year in prison and Simon retired while being investigated on criminal charges.

The university said Simon will receive three annual payments for a total gross amount of $2.45 million.

The $4.5 million fine is the largest Clery Act fine against a school. The prior record-holder was Pennsylvania State University's $2.4 million fine in 2016 for how the school handled Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse scandal. 

MSU is being made to take corrective actions that include the following:

  • Employ an independent Clery Compliance Officer, who will report to a high-level executive;
  • Establish a new Clery Compliance Committee that includes representation from more than 20 offices that play a role in campus safety, crime prevention, fire safety, emergency management, and substance abuse prevention; and
  • Create a system of protective measures and expanded reporting to better ensure the safety of its student-athletes in both intercollegiate and recreational athletic programs. Similar steps will be taken to better ensure the safety of minor children who participate in camps or other youth programs that are sponsored by the University or that are held on its properties.

The Department of Education's full press release can be read here.

University President Samuel Stanley Jr. released the following statement:

As you may have seen in the news, two separate investigations by the U.S. Department of Education have concluded. They outline specifically how Michigan State University needs to improve in light of its handling of the Larry Nassar and William Strampel cases.

As that information is released, I want to communicate directly to you as a member of the MSU community. We are taking these findings, agreements and requirements very seriously. I am grateful for the thoroughness of these investigations. I intend to use them as a blueprint for action.

Today I spoke with Provost June Youatt and accepted her resignation from her position, effective immediately. The letter of findings from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights made it clear that the provost and former president failed to take appropriate action on behalf of the university to address reports related to former dean Strampel.

As part of the OCR resolution agreement, we will review current and former employees who had received complaints and failed to take appropriate steps. Once completed, if further personnel actions are needed, we are prepared to take them. In our effort to build a safe and caring campus, we must have a culture of accountability.

To assist in that effort, I am naming a new committee that I have charged with overseeing the actions we will take to complete the steps outlined by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and Clery Act Compliance Division. This new oversight committee includes five experts from across campus. It will be led by MSU's chief audit, risk and compliance officer and will report directly to me as it oversees the needed changes. I've asked the committee to update me frequently and communicate to the campus community.

We will work to increase transparency in our efforts and progress. Within the next month, a dashboard will be created on MSU's Our Commitment website to provide the public and campus community with regular updates on the university's progress. I expect to communicate further as additional information is known or when new actions are taken.

Acting President Satish Udpa previously has apologized on behalf of the university to all survivors and supporters impacted by these terrible situations, and I absolutely echo his sentiments. I am committed to using these findings and recommendations to significantly improve MSU's prevention of and response to sexual assault.

We know what needs to be done and we will do it. As we make progress, if we need to do more, we will.

Thank you all for your efforts and support as we address these critical issues.

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