The U.S. Department of Education fined Michigan State University a record $4.5 million Thursday for failing to adequately respond to and protect its students from sexual abuse. This comes after former USA Gymnastics and MSU doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for child pornography charges in January 2018.
This fine is the largest ever imposed under the Clery Act, a law that requires colleges to report all crimes that occur on campus in a timely manner. Two separate investigations into the school by the Department of Education found flaws with MSU’s handling of abuse allegations against Nassar and former dean William Strampel, among other issues with reporting complaints.
The Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid found MSU had violations against the Clery Act, including failure to notify campus security of complaints, failure to disclose campus crime statistics and failure to properly report incidents.
A separate investigation by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights, ordered by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, discovered MSU had repeatedly failed to take necessary action when notified of complaints, including those against Nassar and Strampel. Additionally, the office found MSU had subjected students to a sexually hostile environment.
In a press call Thursday, DeVos said what happened at MSU was “abhorrent.”
“The crimes for which Larry Nassar and William Strampel have been convicted are disgusting and unimaginable,” DeVos said in the call. “So, too, was the university’s response to their crimes.”
Following the announcement of the fine, MSU announced the resignation of provost June Youatt. According to the Detroit Free Press, the federal report was critical of Youatt’s handling of allegations against Strampel.
MSU President Samuel Stanley responded to the ruling and Youatt’s resignation in a press release.
"OCR’s letter of findings is very clear that the provost and former president failed to take appropriate action on behalf of the university to address reports of inappropriate behavior and conduct, specifically related to former Dean William Strampel,” Stanley said. “In my effort to build a safe and caring campus, we must have a culture of accountability.”