The ex-Michigan State University president who claimed to have no knowledge of a 2014 Title IX investigation of now-disgraced gymnastics doctor Dr. Larry Nassar is now facing two felony and two misdemeanor charges of lying to law enforcement.
Lou Anna K. Simon served as MSU's president for years, apparently unaware that Nassar, who operated out of MSU's offices, had molested hundreds of female gymnasts in several states, including dozens of MSU students. Simon resigned only after Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in jail for his horrific crimes.
Detroit's WXYZ reports that "Simon was charged with two felony counts of lying to a peace officer in a violent crime investigation and two misdemeanor counts of lying to a peace officer, 4 years or more crime investigation in Eaton County Court on Tuesday. She will be arraigned in court on Monday."
Simon allegedly told Michigan State Police investigating whether MSU had knowledge of Nassar's behavior that she had no idea a Title IX complaint, made in 2014 against the university, was made about Nassar.
"When asked about whether she was aware of any investigation involving Larry Nassar prior to 2016 she falsely or misleadingly said that 'I was aware that in 2014 there was a sports medicine doc who was subject to a review' when in fact she knew it was Larry Nassar who was the subject of the 2014 MSU Title IX investigation," Simon's indictment reads.
Simon was the focus of criticism throughout Nassar's trial, as victims and their supporters struggled to understand how Simon and other MSU administrators could miss so many complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault, molestation, and even forcible rape.
Simon, instead, defended herself and MSU claiming that the school was "committed to creating a culture of accountability, safety and responsiveness regarding sexual assault and harassment," and that the school appropriately handled more than 40 sexual misconduct allegations directed at Nassar.
"There is no culture of tolerance of sexual assault or harassment," she said at the time.
The MSU Board of Trustees initially supported Simon, but called for her to step down on the day Nassar was sentenced. In her resignation letter, Simon again pleaded ignorance, and complained that the tragedy had become "politicized," leaving her the focus of student ire.
Simon is the third MSU administrator to face criminal charges related to Nassar's decades-long reign of terror across the world of gymnastics. MSU's former Dean of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel, faces a felony charge and two misdemeanor charges related to Nassar's crimes, and MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klagel also faces felony and misdemeanor charges for lying to police.
MSU is footing the legal bills, at least in part, for all three accused administrators. Simon, who retained her $750,000-per-year salary on a temporary basis, has taken an unpaid "leave of absence" from her position as an MSU research professor to deal with the criminal charges, according to MSU's new interim president, John Engler.