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The Department of Education socked Michigan State University with a record $4.5 million fine Thursday for its “complete failure to protect students” from sexual abuse by the school’s disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar and his supervisor William Strampel.
“What transpired at Michigan State was abhorrent, inexcusable,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. “Michigan State will now pay for its failures and will be required to make meaningful changes to how it handles Title IX cases moving forward.”
The fine was nearly twice the $2.4 million that Penn State was ordered to pay following the 2011 child sex abuse scandal that involved assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and tarnished the reputation of longtime football coach Joe Paterno.
In addition to paying the fine, Michigan State is required to hire an outside law firm to review all sex assault case decisions made by the school’s Title IX office and issue a report to the federal government.
MSU’s board and president must also receive a regular report of all cases and decisions.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the White House in Washington on Aug. 16, 2018.Leah Millis / Reuters file
Also, MSU must conduct a sweeping investigation into who knew what and didn’t act on both the Nassar case and that of boss Strampel, who was convicted in June of misconduct in office and two counts of willful neglect of duty.
Strampel, the former dean of MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, had been accused of groping and propositioning medical students and of inappropriate behavior with women he hired to be models for invasive practice exams.
Nassar, 56, who was also the USA Gymnastics national team doctor, pleaded guilty in January 2018 to sexually abusing 10 minors in a Michigan court and was sentenced to up to 175 years behind bars. He was accused of molesting hundreds of women and girls over two decades under the guise of medical treatment.
The DOE’s move comes two months after the release of a scathing Congressional report which found that Michigan State as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee and the FBI “had opportunities to stop Nassar but failed to do so.”