Michigan State Uni president quits amid fallout

Ms Lou Anna Simon, who has quit as Michigan State University president, denied a "cover-up" over the Nassar case.
Ms Lou Anna Simon, who has quit as Michigan State University president, denied a "cover-up" over the Nassar case.

NEW YORK • Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon has resigned under pressure over the way she handled a scandal involving a former university doctor accused of sexually abusing more than 150 young women.

"To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment," Ms Simon said in her resignation letter on Wednesday night, which was posted on the university website.

Lawrence Nassar was the physician for two Michigan State women's varsity teams and for the US gymnastics squad, and a member of the university faculty for years.

The 54-year-old was sentenced on Wednesday for sexually abusing seven girls. His sentencing hearing included statements from dozens of his accusers over the past week.

In her letter, Ms Simon also denied a "cover-up" and blamed her resignation on outside pressure, adding: "As tragedies are politicised, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger."

The trustees' chairman, Mr Brian Breslin, said on the university's website that the board "agreed it is now time for change".

Mr Breslin said the board and Ms Simon were "working through the details of transition".

It was unclear how long she would stay in the job.

An investigation conducted for the university by former US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald found no knowledge among university administrators of Nassar's malfeasance before a newspaper report in August 2016.

The Detroit News has reported that at least 14 university representatives had been made aware of allegations against Nassar and that Ms Simon knew of an investigation against an unnamed sports medicine doctor in 2014.

The Lansing State Journal cited public records to show that Nassar continued to see patients at Michigan State for 16 months after the university police began a criminal investigation.

The public calls for Ms Simon to resign began to escalate on Dec 3, when The Lansing State Journal wrote in an editorial that she and the university had not protected women from assault and harassment on campus.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'Michigan State Uni president quits amid fallout'. Print Edition | Subscribe