The agony of MSU

Dec 20, 2017 at 1:00 am
The agony of MSU

Larry Nassar, the physician for Michigan State University's women's gymnastics team, was celebrated for years as a wonderful sports physician, especially skilled with young women athletes.

He also worked with the USA Gymnastics and U.S. Olympic teams. Unfortunately, there was one major problem: He was a monster of a pervert who has been charged with sexually molesting at least 144 woman and girls, all of whom are suing MSU.

Nassar would, according to testimony from multiple women, stick his ungloved hand up their vaginas or anuses without lubricant for sometimes 25 minutes at a time, causing them great discomfort.

They said when they complained, they were basically not listened to, or told he was a "great Olympic doctor" and knew what he was doing. After all, doesn't everyone treat a pulled hamstring that way? So they went on suffering, and more and more women were traumatized. Finally, one courageous woman, Rachel Denhollander, filed a report with MSU police in August 2016 — and many more followed.

But Michigan State did nothing until a story appeared in the Indianapolis Star the next month. Finally, eight days later, MSU finally fired Nassar. Before long, he was criminally charged with sexually assaulting a child at his home, beginning when she was six.

They also seized his computer, which was full of child porn and video, the FBI said, of him assaulting underage girls.

Nassar, who has already been sentenced to 60 years with more to come, is unlikely to ever get out of prison. When the inmates learn what he did, he is likely to be a prime candidate for painful penetration himself. But what few realize is this:

For Michigan State University — and its students — the real hurt has yet to come. This is likely going to be the worst and most expensive collegiate sports sex scandal in history. What this will do to the school's reputation and finances will be beyond devastating.

Consider this: Up to now, the biggest such scandal ever was the one at Pennsylvania State University, where assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused little boys for years, sometimes on campus, before being convicted in 2012.

Thirty-three victims filed lawsuits against Penn State, and the school had to pay out damaged totaling $93 million. But when legal bills were added in, the cost was about $250 million.

Now consider the situation at Michigan State. There are more than four times as many people suing — 144 at last count.

What do you think that may cost the school?

What's even worse is MSU's attitude. Rather than move speedily to get out in front of the scandal early, longtime President Lou Anna Simon made no such move.

Simon is a rarity among college presidents in that she has never worked anywhere else since coming there as a new graduate student back in 1970. She seemed to hope it would all just go way.

Now, the school's attitude is that nobody knew what Nassar was up to, and so you can't possibly blame anyone else. Oh, there was a creature named Kathie Klages, MSU's longtime gymnastics coach. Three women charged, two in official court documents, that Klages told her not to tell anybody what Nassar was doing to them.

When this came out last February, Klages said it was all a little misunderstanding, and besides she had decided to retire on the spot.

Sure she did. Most recently, MSU hired former federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the guy who tried to force reporters to disclose their confidential sources in the Lewis "Scooter" Libby case a decade ago. They paid him, and sure enough, he said the university was clean, no cover-up; nothing to see here, folks.

Lou Anna Simon and everyone else were just the victims of a diabolical mastermind too smart for them to ever suspect of sexually abusing scores of students. "It is clear Nassar fooled everyone around him — parents, friends, colleagues, and fellow doctors at MSU," Fitzgerald said in a letter to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Schuette had correctly asked to see any report Fitzgerald had produced. MSU officials first indicated it was private, and later said, well, what do you know, there isn't any report.

Nobody thinks that will be adequate. Some are calling for the legislature to investigate MSU. Gretchen Whitmer, the front-running candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor next year, wants Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the probable GOP nominee, to have the state police launch an investigation.

Meanwhile, the Lansing State Journal had a front-page editorial saying what others have been whispering: Time for Simon to go.

However this ends, it isn't likely to be pretty. As I write, Graham Spannier, Penn State president when the scandal went down, is still fighting the jail sentence he got for child endangerment. His senior vice president and athletic director already have served time.

Could that happen here?

Dana Nessel's penis video
Full disclosure here: Ever since I met her years ago, I have admired Dana Nessel, the brilliant, funny, and tough attorney who won the federal case establishing same-sex adoption in this state. She also had a career as an assistant Wayne County prosecutor effectively sending car thieves and child molesters to the slam. She's now running for Michigan attorney general.

Actually, for the Democratic nomination for that post. That's tricky, given that the voters don't get to pick the candidate. The party hacks — I mean, delegates — will do that at their state convention around next Labor Day. The establishment types want Patrick Miles.

They need to stick a black face on their statewide ticket — and unlike some the Democrats have used for tokenism in the recent past, he is completely qualified; he was the U.S. District Attorney for the Western District of Michigan until last January.

However, he's not very inspiring as a speaker... and good luck trying to find out whether he supports even medical marijuana.

Late last month, Nessel got the political world's attention with an online video ad in which she said, "If the last few weeks has taught us anything, it's that we need more women in positions of power, not less. So, when you're choosing Michigan's next Attorney General, ask yourself this. Who can you trust most not to show you their penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate who doesn't have a penis? I'd say so."

Well, that freaked out all sorts of old establishment guys who couldn't believe she'd insulted the sacred penis.

"She's finished. She'll never go anywhere now," two once very high-ranking old bulls told me. Well, I think they are dead wrong.

I think her video was politically brilliant. Thousands of people were talking about it who never heard of her before.

What she needs to do now is let the state's Democrats know that her main interest isn't genitals, but crusading for justice for everyone and putting bad guys and exploiters in jail.

By the way, she also wiped the floor of a federal courtroom with incumbent Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in that adoption case. Incidentally, I happen to be an old hetero white male with a penis, and I don't feel the least bit threatened by what Nessel said.

Matter of fact... it's sort of true.