A growing chorus that includes accusers, lawyers and now even Michigan’s Attorney General is calling for Michigan State University to release its internal review into Dr. Larry Nassar.
The disgraced former MSU and Olympic team gymnastics physician pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges last month after more than 140 women and girls came forward alleging they had been assaulted over two decades.
“I will not be healed until MSU does the right thing,” said Jessica Smith, one of Nassar’s accusers, “because one man might be behind bars, but for all of the people that enabled that? That could still happen again.”
Smith was 17 when she says Nassar used his fingers to penetrate her repeatedly under the guise of medical treatment. AlexisAlvarado was only 12 when she says Nassar did it to her.
“I started feeling really uncomfortable in the appointments, but everyone said how great he was,” Alvarado said. “So I assumed it was normal and it was okay.”
The full extent of Nassar’s abuse may never be fully known, but his victims want to know what allowed him to do it for so long to so many.
David Mittleman is an attorney for 37 of Nassar’s alleged victims. Along with partner Mick Grewal, they want MSU to release its internal investigation into Nassar. Last year, MSU hired the Chicago-based law firm Skadden Arps to dig into the disgraced doctor’s conduct.
“We’ve hired a very expensive outside counsel to also do an investigation,” said Joel Ferguson, MSU’s Board of Trustees Vice-Chair, last March. “So there’s no sacred cow. No rock they should not overturn or anything else."
Ferguson later added: “MSU is going to look great.”
But now, MSU says what that investigation finds is no one’s business. Through a spokesman, the university says they never intended to release it in the first place. Instead, they say any findings of possible wrongdoing will be referred to law enforcement. But their findings won’t be made public.
“Does Michigan State really want us to believe that he hid in plain sight for two decades?” asked Mittleman. “You can only accomplish what he did if there are enablers and those who are complicit with what he was doing.”
At MSU, there is plenty of reason to question who knew what, when. At least six current or former university employees have already been accused of knowing about Nassar’s conduct and failing to fully investigate, or stop him at all.
“If they had nothing to hide, they would release it,” said Alexis Alvarado. “Obviously they must have something to hide.”
Both Jessica and Alexis were in the courtroom last month when Nassar admitted to his crimes. Noticeably absent, they said, was anyone from MSU’s administration. While Nassar admitted guilt, several MSU Trustees were thousands of miles away at a birthday celebration for Nike founder Phil Knight.
“They’re celebrating a billionaire’s birthday party?” Smith said. “Not only are they not apologizing and not making steps towards change, but they’re also not there to support us. They’re also showing very clearly what their priorities are and that’s money and status and sports.”
Larry Nassar will be sentenced in federal court later on this week. His victims say it’s an important step in their healing, but it can’t be the last one. That will only come, they say, if MSU is put under the same scrutiny as Nassar.
After all, his victims have told their stories. Why should MSU’s remain a secret?
“I was at the grocery store and I saw a girl dressed up as an MSU cheerleader,” Smith recalled. “And it almost made me cry, just out of so much discomfort. I wanted to look at her mom and tell her she shouldn't send her daughter there, because she’s not safe. We’re not safe there. And they’re not doing anything to help us.”