A scandal involving former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar prompted the university’s president to resign Wednesday over accusations the school mishandled sexual misconduct allegations against the physician.
Lou Anna Simon, the Michigan State University president since 2005, submitted her resignation letter late Wednesday following Nassar’s court sentencing after more than 150 female victims, many gymnasts, testified against him.
Nassar, who was also the former doctor for the American gymnastics team, worked at Michigan State University from 1996 until the school fired him in 2016. A judge sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for many sex crimes against young girls and women.
He was previously sentenced in December to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes, reported the New York Post.
“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable,” Simon wrote in her Michigan State resignation letter. “As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.”
“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,” she added.
Joel Ferguson, the Vice President of Michigan State’s governing board, had said Tuesday that Simon would not be resigning from her position. He shrugged off the idea of having the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigating the school. “This is not Penn State,” he said, referencing former football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse scandal at the Pennsylvania school.
The NCAA opened an investigation Tuesday into how Michigan State handled Nassar’s case.
The association “sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State University regarding potential NCAA rules violations related to the assaults Larry Nassar perpetrated against girls and young women, including some student-athletes at Michigan State,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Sen. Hertel, a Democrat from East Lansing where the university is located, welcomed the university president’s resignation. “We need to create a culture at Michigan State where survivors are listened to and believed,” said Hertel, adding that,”I think in this case, her actions did not meet the leadership that we need at Michigan State.”
Under Simon’s administration, the school allowed Nassar to see patients for 16 months throughout a Title IX investigation of the doctor. The university’s probe cleared Nassar in 2014, reported Time. Michigan State allegedly ignored complaints against Nassar that date back to 1997.
Three members of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors resigned Monday over accusations they were complicit in protecting Nassar. Former Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathy Klages also resigned in 2017 after a suspension for defending Nassar over the years.
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