Senate reviews ex-MSU President's testimony after police claim she lied

INGHAM COUNTY (WXYZ) - One day after former MSU President Lou Anna Simon was charged by the state attorney general for lying to a police officer over the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, the U.S. Senate is reviewing Simon's June testimony to determine if she was truthful.

"The subcommittee expects witnesses to provide truthful testimony as required by 18 USC 1001, and will be independently reviewing Ms. Simon’s testimony," said a spokesman for Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), who chaired the subcommittee that Simon testified before.

Yesterday in district court in Eaton County, police told a judge that notes and an agenda from a meeting between Simon and her advisor from 2014 prove that Simon lied to detectives when she was interviewed about the Nassar sex abuse scandal.

“Simon gave materially false and misleading statements to me and Lieutenant Cavanagh that impeded the criminal investigation of first-degree sexual conduct,” said Michigan State Police Detective William Arndt in Eaton County Court on Tuesday. 

In 2014, records show that Simon met with Paulette Russell, the director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and a senior advisor to Simon, about a Title IX investigation into a sexual misconduct complaint into Nassar.

The complaint was filed by MSU student Amanda Thomashow, who said Nassar massaged her breasts and used his fingers to massage her vaginal area during a medical appointment.

In her May 2018 interview with police, Simon stated she was, “aware that in 2014 there was a sports medicine doc” who was subject to a review, but that she "was not aware of any of the substance of that review, the nature of the complaint; all that was learned in 2016.” 

But notes of Simon and Russell’s meeting contradict that statement, police say.

“Russell wrote Nassar’s name on the outside of the folder during a meeting with Simon three days later, at which the allegation was discussed,” Detective Arndt said in open court on Tuesday.

Detectives say that Russell wrote "SA" on the folder for her meeting with Simon - shorthand for sexual assault - a notation that police say Russell made to remind herself to raise the issue with Simon.

“Simon made these statements knowingly and willfully in an effort to insulate herself and MSU from criminal and civil liability,” Arndt said.

When she testified before a Senate subcommittee in June, Simon was asked when she learned about a Title IX complaint filed by an MSU graduate in 2014.

"I received an e-mail from the Title IX officer saying there was an individual in sports medicine being reviewed," Simon said. "My comment was play it with a straight bat."

But police say Simon knew in 2014 that the complaint was about Nassar and had been briefed on the nature of the accusations.

On Tuesday, Simon’s attorney, Lee Silver, released a statement saying he has “not seen a shred of evidence to support these charges, which I believe are completely baseless. 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 whatsoever.”

After Simon resigned in January as MSU’s president, she was offered a paid position with the university. MSU announced yesterday that Simon would take an immediate unpaid leave of absence from that position to focus on the criminal charges against her.

Simon will be formally arraigned Monday morning in Eaton County district court.

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