Michigan State University did mishandle sexual abuse and harassment complaints against disgraced physician Larry Nassar and former dean William Strampel, a U.S. Department of Education investigation has found.
Started last year in February, the investigation by the Office of Civil Rights and Clery Act Compliance Division found that the university failed to take note of sexual harassment leading to the creation of a hostile environment.
The university has been asked to pay $4.5 million in fines, which is the largest ever amount to be levied under the Clery Act. The report found the university in non-compliance with regulations of the act, which includes properly classifying reported incidents and disclosing crime statistics, issuing timely warnings in accordance with federal regulations, and identifying and notifying campus security authorities and lack of administrative capability.
“What transpired at Michigan State was abhorrent, inexcusable, and a total and complete failure to follow the law and protect students,” said Education Secretary Besty DeVos.
“Michigan State will now pay for its failures and will be required to make meaningful changes to how it handles Title IX cases moving forward. No future student should have to endure what too many did because concerns about Larry Nassar and William Strampel were ignored.”
Last month, Strampel was sentenced to 11 months in prison for sexual misconduct while in office and one year for willful neglect of duty charges. Both the sentences will run concurrently. Nassar was sentenced in 2017 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.
The university has further been directed to establish a new Clery Compliance Committee and an independent Clery Compliance Officer. As a part of the agreement, the university will make changes to its Title IX procedures exercise adequate Title IX oversight of the University’s youth programs, take remedial action on the impact of the sexual misconduct by Nassar and Strampel on students among others.
“OCR’s letter of findings is very clear that the provost and former president failed to take appropriate action on behalf of the university to address reports of inappropriate behavior and conduct, specifically related to former Dean William Strampel,” President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said.
“In my effort to build a safe and caring campus, we must have a culture of accountability.”