A judge on Wednesday dismissed criminal charges against former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon, who was accused of lying to police while they were investigating former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Simon, who was the university’s president for 14 years, was charged in November 2018 with two felony counts of lying to a peace officer in a violent crime investigation, and two misdemeanor counts of lying to a peace officer.
The 59-year-old was the fourth person to be charged by the attorney general’s office in its investigation into Michigan State University and its doctor-turned-convicted sex abuser Larry Nassar.
“The prosecution did not provide evidence sufficient to give a reasonable person probable cause that Dr. Simon knew during her 2018 interview that her purported knowledge in 2014 of Dr. Nassar’s name and the ‘nature’ and ‘substance’ of the complaint against him were relevant,” the Eaton County judge said, according to the Associated Press.
Prosecutors alleged that while questioning Simon in May 2018 about whether she knew of past investigations concerning Nassar, Simon claimed she was only aware of a “sports medicine doctor” that was the subject of a Title IX investigation in 2014, but not who it was specifically. Investigators believed the former president’s claim was untrue.
“When asked about whether she was aware of any investigation involving Larry Nassar prior to 2016 she falsely or misleadingly said that ‘I was aware that in 2014 there was a sports medicine doc who was subject to a review’ when in fact she knew it was Larry Nassar who was the subject of the 2014 MSU Title IX investigation,” the charging document said.
Amid public pressure, Simon stepped down as MSU president in January 2018—just hours after Nassar was sentenced 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexually assaulting minors.
Last October, Simon was ordered to stand trial. At the time, one of her lawyers, Lee Silver, said they would vigorously defend against the charges. “We are disappointed by the district court’s ruling in light of the complete lack of evidence to support the charges against Lou Anna Simon,” Silver said.
The investigation centered around Nassar, the former MSU employee and gymnastics doctor, who had been accused of molesting at least 250 underage girls and 1 young man, including several well-known Olympic gymnasts.
In 2014, he was the subject of a Title IX complaint, the same complaint Simon allegedly lied to investigations about—but he was ultimately cleared to continue treating patients for another two years, until victims began to come forward in The Indianapolis Star.
Nassar, who pleaded guilty in three separate criminal trials yielding a combined sentence of 300 years, is serving his time in a Florida jail.
In addition to two sexual assault trials, the disgraced doctor was also sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, including receipt and attempted receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and destruction and concealment of records and tangible objects.
Along with Simon, William Strampel, former dean of osteopathic medicine and one of Nassar’s former bosses, former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny, and former USGA trainer Debbie Van Horn were all charged in the investigation for their role in facilitating, or covering up, Nassar’s behavior.
Strampel was found guilty in June, 2018, of misconduct in office and willfully neglecting his oversight after prosecutors argued he “abused his power” in office, made explicit comments to female medical students, and “sexually propositioned” at least two, whom he inappropriately touched.