FILE - In this June 5, 2018 file photo, former Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon testifies before a Senate subcommittee in Washington. Simon has been charged with lying to police conducting an investigation of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. Simon, who stepped down earlier this year over the scandal, was charged Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, with two felonies and two misdemeanors. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Ex-Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation of the handling of serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar — the third current or former campus official other than Nassar to face criminal charges in the scandal.

Simon, who stepped down under pressure in January, spoke with state police investigators on May 1. She is accused of making two false and misleading statements — that she was unaware of the nature of a sexual misconduct complaint that sparked the school’s 2014 Title IX probe of Nassar, and that she only knew a sports medicine doctor, not Nassar himself, was under investigation at that time.

If convicted of two felony and two misdemeanour counts of lying to a peace officer, the 71-year-old Simon faces up to four years in prison. The Mason resident is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in Eaton County near Lansing.

RELATED: USOC moves to shut down USA Gymnastics after Nassar scandal

One of her attorneys, Lee Silver, called the charges “completely baseless” and said he had not seen a “shred of evidence” to support them.

“In my opinion, the real crime here is that these charges are even being brought,” he said. “We are confident that when we have our day in court, Dr. Simon will be exonerated and these charges will be proven to have no merit.”

University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said Simon, who stayed on at MSU to do research while preparing for a return to teaching, is taking an immediate unpaid leave of absence from her $750,000-a-year job “to focus on her legal situation.”

The charges were filed by special independent counsel Bill Forsyth, who was appointed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate Michigan State’s handling of Nassar. Forsyth declined comment.

Simon is the fifth person to be criminally charged in the wake of Nassar’s convictions for molesting young female athletes under the guise of treatment. Numerous other people have lost their jobs or have been sued.

In June, Simon told a congressional committee that she was “horrified” that Nassar’s crimes occurred during her tenure and had she known he was sexually abusing young women, “I would have taken immediate action to prevent him from preying on additional victims.” She also told senators that when she was informed of the Title IX probe in 2014, she knew it involved a “sports medicine physician” but did not know Nassar was the one under review.

RELATED: Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to settle Nassar claims with 332 victim

In August, Schuette charged former MSU gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages with lying to an investigator when she denied that witnesses told her years ago about being sexually assaulted by Nassar. In March, the ex-dean of the osteopathic medicine school, William Strampel , was charged with neglecting his duty to enforce examining-room restrictions imposed on Nassar after the 2014 Title IX investigation.

That probe, initiated by a patient, resulted in the school clearing Nassar. He was fired in 2016 after another victim went public and filed Title IX and police complaints.

In Texas, former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny was charged last month with tampering with evidence while a former sports medicine trainer, Debra Van Horn , was charged in June with “acting as a party” with Nassar in the sexual assault of a child.

Hundreds of girls and women have said Nassar molested them when he was a physician, including while he worked at Michigan State and Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians. Nassar, 55, last year pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting nine victims and possessing child pornography, and his sentences equate to life in prison.

The Michigan State scandal has been likened to the one at Penn State University, where former president Graham Spanier and two other ex-administrators were prosecuted for child endangerment for not reporting a 2001 complaint about a sexual abuse allegation involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

___

David Eggert, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cold weather centre to open in Grand Forks

The centre will be open around the clock through to the spring.

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

Grand Forks fire crews respond to ‘abandoned’ house fire

No one was in the home at the time of the fire.

From the Hill: The millstone of a cannabis conviction

Richard Cannings writes about records expungement for cannabis convictions

Tips for avoiding Canada Revenue Agency scams

Grand Forks RCMP are asking residents to be vigilant.

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Most Read