Showing posts with label sexual abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sexual abuse. Show all posts

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon resigns in wake of Larry Nassar scandal: Perhaps she should go to jail

Larry Nassar, a faculty member at Michigan State University and team physician for two women's varsity teams, was convicted of sexually assaulting seven girls. His sentence: 40 to 175 years in prison.

How many women and girls did Nassar abuse? We will never know, but 150 women spoke at his sentencing hearing.

Responding to mounting pressure, Lou Anna Simon, MSU's president, resigned her post a few days ago. She refused, however, to take any responsibility for Nassar's rampant sexual abuse. In her resignation letter, Simon denied a university cover-up and blamed her resignation on politics. “As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable," she said in her letter. "As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.”

Simon adamantly denied knowing anything about Nassar's predatory behavior. But how can that be true?

The U.S. Department of Education  conducted a Title IX investigation in 2014, and that investigation centered on Nassar. The Detroit News reported that at least 14 MSU employees knew about allegations against Nassar, which first began surfacing two decades ago.

Is Simon saying she didn't know any of the details about a Title IX investigation that could have led to a massive federal fine and loss of federal funds? Is she saying she knew nothing about accusations against Nassar over a 20-year period while other less senior officials knew Nassar was trouble?

No, it is simply inconceivable that Simon and other top MSU officials were totally in the dark about what Nassar was accused of doing.

In any event, Simon did not resign in disgrace. She was paid $750,000 a year as MSU president, and she will keep that salary for two years. Then she will rejoin the MSU faculty as a tenured professor, when she will begin drawing an annual salary of $563,000--more than three times the average salary of other MSU tenured professors.

Simon's termination agreement also has some great perks. She will get tickets to MSU athletic events, a VIP parking pass, secretarial services, and tech support. Not bad for a a college president who was asleep at the wheel as the Nassar scandal unfolded.

Mark Hollis, MSU's athletic director, also retired from his job. Why? Because, as he said publicly, "I care." But he will keep all his generous retirement benefits, which will probably include some football tickets.

How is MSU as an institution responding to this disgraceful series of events?  The university has been sued by 130 victims, but moved to dismiss the lawsuits on the grounds that it is immune from liability.

Simon said she regretted that the university's get-out-of-jail free-card argument might seem disrespectful to Nassar's victims, for whom she expressed "the utmost respect and sympathy."

On the other hand, Joel Ferguson, a MSU  board member, referred to the victims as ambulance chasers seeking a payday.  He later apologized for that remark, which I am sure was sincere.

According to Associated Press, MSU has set aside $10 million to deal with claims brought by Nassar's victims. This paltry sum shows MSU's leadership still doesn't get it. Penn State and Baylor University each spent a quarter billion dollars dealing with their separate sexual assault scandals. More than a dozen Catholic dioceses have declared bankruptcy to settle hundreds of claims of child rape.

As the Nassar scandal demonstrates, American universities have responded to sexual abuse exactly like the Catholic Church. Cardinal Bernard Law, who covered up sexual abuse by dozens of Catholic priests in the Boston Archdiocese, was buried with papal honors in the Basilica of Saint Maria Maggiori. Lou Anna Simon floats away on a golden parachute in the wake of a shocking scandal involving more than 100 victims. Meanwhile, MSU tells the courts it doesn't owe student sexual abuse victims a goddamn dime.

Sexual abuse scandals at American universities will not stop until senior administrators go to prison. Graham Spanier, Penn State's former president, recently received a two-month jail sentence for child endangerment in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Two senior Penn State administrators pleaded guilty to similar charges to avoid a trial, and then got longer jail sentences than Spanier.  He should have gotten at least 5 years.

Lets' find out what Lou Anna Simon knew about Larry Nassar's criminal behavior before the scandal made the news. If she knew as much about Nassar as Spanier knew about Jerry Sandusky, Simon should go to jail.


MSU President Lou Anna Simon: Should she go to jail?

References

David Eggert and Larry Page. Amid scandal, Mich. St. athletic director retires. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, January 27, 2018.

Matthew Haag and Marc Tracy. Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon Resigns Amid Nassar Fallout. New York Times, January 24, 2018.

Will Hobson.Former Penn State president Graham Spanier sentenced to jail for child endangerment. Washington post, June 2, 2017.

Rick Seltzer. Outgoing Michigan State president's employment contract draws scrutiny. Inside Higher Ed, January 26, 2018.