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Former Michigan State University Medical School Dean Faces Criminal Charges


There are new developments today connected to the Larry Nassar scandal. He was the Olympic gymnastics doctor who's now in prison for abusing women and girls under the guise of medical treatment. Now Nassar's former boss William Strampel has been arrested. He was dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University where Nassar worked for years. State prosecutors are charging Strampel with willful neglect of duty for failing to protect patients and with sexual misconduct of his own. Michigan Radio's Kate Wells has been covering this story and joins us now. Hi, Kate.


SHAPIRO: What exactly are prosecutors saying Strampel did?

WELLS: So they're saying today that Strampel is facing four charges here total. First is a felony for misconduct of a public official. The second is for sexual misconduct, like you mentioned, and then the last two are for willful neglect of duty. Those last two charges are the ones that are directly related to Larry Nassar. They go back to 2014. That was when the school got a complaint that Nassar had sexually assaulted a graduate student. And prosecutors are claiming that Strampel let Nassar come back to work and treat patients before that investigation was even over and that when the investigation officially wrapped up, Strampel was supposed to make sure that Nassar followed protocols, like having a chaperone present and using gloves, getting patient consent but that Strampel just never did that.

And then unrelated to Nassar are the sexual misconduct charges. There are four female medical students who say they were worried about their grades and Strampel used that to sexually harass them, to tell them that they should put out, that they should come to his house to perform favors. One woman says Strampel literally said to her, I hold your entire future in my hand and I can do whatever I want with it. To make that affidavit even more interesting reading, police say that when they searched Strampel's computer recently, they found 50 images of nude women. And prosecutors say that those appear to be selfies taken by MSU students.

Prosecutors are also saying that they found on Strampel's computer a video of Larry Nassar they say, quote, "performing a treatment on a young female patient." They haven't given us any more detail about that, like what kind of treatment that was.

SHAPIRO: Have Strampel and his lawyers responded to these charges?

WELLS: Yeah. Strampel was arraigned today, and through his lawyer, he has denied any wrongdoing. About that specific video of Nassar, Strampel's attorney is saying, look, this may have been the video of Nassar that Nassar sent out to a lot of people when he was claiming that what he does was just medical techniques that, they were not sexual.


JOHN DAKMAK: This is most likely the video that Mr. Nassar used around the country to show his technique in treating many patients. We do not know the context of what the government is alleging of my client's possession of that.

SHAPIRO: And what's the university saying?

WELLS: The university says, look, these allegations are serious. They're not in alignment with our values. But they say that, look, the crimes of one doctor and the conduct of this dean don't represent the school as a whole.

SHAPIRO: That's Kate Wells of Michigan Radio. Thank you very much, Kate.

WELLS: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter who covers politics, education, public policy and just about everything in between for Iowa Public Radio, and is based in Cedar Rapids. Her work has aired on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. She's also contributed coverage to WNYC in New York, Harvest Public Media, Austin Public Radio (KUT) and the Texas Tribune. Winner of the 2012 regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award and NBNA Eric Sevareid Award for investigative reporting, Kate came to Iowa Public Radio in 2010 from New England. Previously, she was a news intern for New Hampshire Public Radio.
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