Michigan AG: Michigan State University refuses to release Nassar documents, investigation forced to close

AG Nessel: ‘When our universities refuse to lead, they miss the most important way they can teach’

Larry Nassar in court Feb. 5, 2018. (WDIV)

The Michigan attorney general said Michigan State University’s refusal to disclose thousands of documents related to the Larry Nassar investigation has forced her office to close its investigation.

Attorney General Dana Nessel has led the three-year investigation into the university and its role in Nassar’s crimes -- but in February of this year, Nessel said the investigation was going nowhere.

More: ‘You will have shut the door on the pursuit of justice’ -- MSU, AG reach stalemate in Nassar investigation

On Friday, she said the university’s refusal to voluntarily waive privilege to the content of nearly 6,000 documents closed the “last door available to finish our investigation.”

“We have used every legal mechanism available to us -- including going to court -- to secure the remaining documents needed for our investigation. The University’s refusal to voluntarily provide them closes the last door available to finish our investigation,” reads the statement from Nessel. “We’re incredibly disappointed that our work will end this way, especially for the Survivors. We can only emphasize again that justice doesn’t begin and end at the courthouse doors. Principles of truth, fairness, and equity should be lights that guide all of our public institutions, especially our schools; and, when our universities refuse to lead, they miss the most important way they can teach.”

In 2018, Nassar was sentenced 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young athletes, including some girls under the age of 13. The 54-year-old originally was charged with more than 20 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but instead agreed to a plea deal. More than 150 victims -- 156 to be exact -- delivered impact statements during the seven-day sentencing hearing in 2018.

According to Nessel, the investigation is inconclusive due to the 6,000 documents that have not been released to investigators by the MSU Board of Trustees, citing attorney-client privilege. The attorney general’s office has no legal options available to it that would allow for review of the material without the MSU Board of Trustee’s consent.

“MSU’s refusal to comply with my request leaves me with no choice but to close this investigation in a manner that provides no real closure or justice to the people who deserve it,” Nessel tweeted last month. “I again urge the Board of Trustees to seriously consider my request.”

On Thursday, March 25, members of Michigan’s House of Representatives and Senate sent a letter to the board, urging them to release the documents so that Nessel can complete the investigation.

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About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.