DETROIT (AP) — A sports doctor at Michigan State University sexually assaulted a teen gymnast during treatments for back pain in 2000, according to a campus investigation that’s separate from a criminal probe and a blizzard of lawsuits against him.
The conclusion by Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Equity could hurt the university as it defends itself against lawsuits by dozens of women and girls who visited Dr. Larry Nassar for sports injuries, especially gymnasts of various ages from around Michigan. He also was a doctor at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.
The report stems from allegations made by Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, who has publicly identified herself as a victim. She said Nassar repeatedly molested her in 2000 when she was a 15-year-old gymnast seeking relief for back pain. She said Nassar appeared to be aroused, and she had a “gut feeling something was not right.”
Nassar denied any wrongdoing during an interview with investigator Lin-Chi Wang but also couldn’t recall Denhollander and wondered why she didn’t complain at the time. Wang, however, said the doctor’s denial was “unpersuasive.”
Nassar “committed these acts in a sexual manner regardless of whether it was done for medical purposes,” Wang, a lawyer, said in a March 17 report, which was released Tuesday night by Denhollander’s attorneys.
Nassar was interviewed in September, just days before the university fired him for violating restrictions that were put in place after a similar campus investigation in 2014.
“The 2017 report is a real investigation,” Denhollander’s attorney, John Manly, said Wednesday. Wang “talked to the victim. She talked to outside experts. The 2014 investigation involved Nasser’s colleagues who said he didn’t do anything wrong: The fix was in. They didn’t want him to be fired.”
U.S. law requires Michigan State to investigate campus complaints about sexual harassment, apart from any police investigation. Nassar already has been fired so he won’t face any penalty from the university.
But Nassar has even bigger problems. He’s charged with sexually assaulting 10 girls, including the daughter of friends, and possessing child pornography. Separately, he’s being sued by dozens of women and girls. He’s in jail without bond.