Lou Anna Simon, former president of Michigan State University, was charged on Tuesday by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for lying to police regarding the investigation of Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics and MSU doctor.
Simon was arraigned in Eaton County District Court on two felony and two misdemeanor counts. If convicted, she faces up to four years in prison. Authorities say Simon allegedly knew Nassar was the subject of a Title IX investigation but lied to police on her knowledge of the manner.
Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in jail in January after more than 150 survivors came forward accusing him of sexual abuse.
Simon resigned as MSU president on Jan. 24 following Nassar’s sentencing, saying the scandal was “politicized” and it was “understandable” why she was the focus of public anger.
Other prominent figures associated with MSU and USA Gymnastics were arrested earlier this year in the wake of the Nassar scandal. Steve Penny, former chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics, was arrested in October for tampering with evidence. Kathie Klages, former gymnastics coach of MSU, was arrested for lying to police. William Strampel, former dean of MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, was arrested in March regarding his handling of the Nassar investigation.
Lindsey Lemke, a survivor and former Michigan State gymnast, wrote in a Twitter statement that she is not surprised by Simon’s arrest, and sees it as taking a step forward toward holding enablers of sexual abuse accountable.
“She knew all along that Nassar should not have been treating us but yet she chose not to do the right thing and continued to employ Nassar at Michigan State University,” the statement said. “When I confronted Lou Anna in the court sentencing of Larry Nassar, she had no answers, she didn’t know who I was, and she proved that she was unfit to be in the position she was in … this serves as a statement that we are continuing to hold our fight and that we are not backing down until all enablers are held accountable for their poor actions.”
LSA sophomore Morgan McCaul, also a survivor, echoed Lemke’s sentiment that these charges represent an important moment of increased accountability regarding the Michigan State University administration, as well as justice for survivors.
“Her charges mark a significant moment in the course of this story, one where enablers of sexual violence begin to face accountability for their failure to ensure the safety of those they were legally responsible to protect. This has been a long time coming, but it is one more long-sought step towards collective justice,” she said.
She further recalled the hearings last January, in which Judge Rosemarie Aquilina garnered national acclaim for her empathetic support of the “sister survivors.”
“Back in January, I asked Judge Aquilina to impose a sentence upon my abuser that would send an unmistakable message to those who ‘look the other way to protect their green-and-white,’” she said. “Today, that feels realized.”
This is a developing story. Check back at michigandaily.com for more details.