Lawyer: No one at Michigan State knew about doc’s assaults
DETROIT (AP) — A former federal prosecutor hired by Michigan State University said there’s no evidence that school officials knew a campus doctor was sexually abusing young female athletes.
Patrick Fitzgerald made the disclosure in a letter to state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who had asked for the university’s internal report on Dr. Larry Nassar. Fitzgerald said there is no report or “Fitzgerald findings.” But he said Michigan State is “ready, willing and able to cooperate” with any inquiry by state or federal authorities.
Fitzgerald’s letter was released Friday by Schuette, a day after Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison for possessing child pornography and destroying evidence. He’s awaiting prison sentences in state court for molesting girls, especially gymnasts, who needed help with injuries in the Lansing area.
Nassar, 54, worked at Michigan State and at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. Olympians McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas say they were among his victims as teens.
“It is clear that Nassar fooled everyone around him — patients, friends, colleagues and fellow doctors at MSU,” said Fitzgerald, who built a crime-busting reputation as U.S. attorney in Chicago.
“While many in the community today wish that they had identified Nassar as a predator, we believe the evidence in this case will show that no one else at MSU knew that Nassar engaged in criminal behavior,” he wrote Wednesday.
Fitzgerald said it’s “just flat wrong” for people to assume that university administrators “behaved like criminals in a cover-up.”
Fitzgerald said part of his job is to provide advice to Michigan State in lawsuits related to Nassar’s actions. Indeed, the university is a defendant in many cases filed by more than 100 women and girls who say they were assaulted by the doctor.
An attorney for the victims, John Manly, said Fitzgerald’s affiliation with the school means his voice is not truly independent.
“If there’s no report, there’s no investigation,” Manly said Friday. “What the university hired Mr. Fitzgerald to do is to effectively close the gates and bar the door and not let anyone know what occurred. … Mr. Fitzgerald has never spoken to any of the victims.”
Manly said athletes who were uncomfortable with Nassar years ago reported their concerns to university staff but nothing happened. He renewed his call for an independent probe.
Gretchen Whitmer, a Democratic candidate for governor who briefly served as a Lansing-area prosecutor, wants state police to look at how Michigan State dealt with Nassar.
Without an independent investigation at Michigan State, “I don’t believe any of the victims will have confidence that we’ve got all of the facts,” Whitmer said.