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Michigan State Launches New Investigation into Handling of Nassar Abuse

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Michigan State University is planning to initiate a new independent investigation into the school’s handling of sexual abuse complaints against Larry Nassar.

On Friday, the school’s Board of Trustees announced its intention to begin an independent investigation, hiring the McDermott Will & Emery firm to look into the facts associated with Nassar’s case as revealed by survivors.

In addition, the trustees also approved an update to a policy that bans consensual amorous and sexual relationships between faculty and academic staff and undergraduate students.

“The purpose of this policy is to ensure that MSU’s learning environment reflects our moral and ethical responsibility to manage the power differential that exists when there are relationships between instructors and students,” provost June Youatt said.

In 2017, Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison over three-child pornography and 10 sexual assault charges. The university paid $500 million to settle the lawsuit with 332 victims of sexual abuse. Out of the $500 million, the university paid $425 million to the Qualified Survivor Fund and set aside the remaining $75 million in a litigation fund.

On Friday, the trustees also approved the creation of the Counseling and Mental Health Services Fund for Nassar survivors, which will be administered by New Directions Behavioral Health.

“We listened to the concerns expressed about the management of the initial Healing Assistance Fund and selected New Directions Behavioral Health with those concerns in mind,” Dianne Byrum, chairperson of the Board of Trustees, said. “Based on their experience in this area and commitment to improving mental and emotional health, we are confident New Directions Behavioral Health can provide a more efficient and timely process as well as greater privacy for survivors.”

Over the last year, the University has undertaken various initiatives aimed at addressing sexual abuse, especially after receiving backlash for its handling of complaints against the disgraced physician which include organizing a roundtable discussion series to educate and raise awareness about sexual abuse and harassment, providing first-response medical care to the sexual assault survivors program, among others.

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