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

‘Water Quality Advisory’ lifted for Prince Rupert

Some Prince Rupert residents are still under a ‘Boil Water Notice’

Liberals and Greens yet to announce North Coast candidates

North Coast candidates have until two weeks before the election to name contenders

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Planned upgrades didn’t go as planned

CityWest said a fibre-line break caused outages to all customers

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read