(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Education will fine Michigan State University $4.5 million for its handling of reports against disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday.
The department’s Office of Civil Rights concluded the university “did not adequately respond to complaints” against Nassar and William Strampel, a dean at the university, and subjected students to a “sexually hostile environment that denied them access to and the ability to benefit from their education,” DeVos told reporters.
It is the largest on record under the Clery Act, a federal statute under the Education Department that requires schools that are receiving federal funding to provide campus crime statistics, DeVos said.
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for assaulting scores of girls and women. His accusers included Olympic gymnastic stars Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Jamie Dantzscher.
Last month, Strampel was sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison for his role in failing to protect students from Nassar’s abuse.
“What happened at Michigan State University was abhorrent,” DeVos said. “The crimes for which Larry Nassar and William Strampel have been convicted are disgusting and unimaginable. So too is the university’s response to their crimes. This must not happen again there or anywhere else.”
“Too many people in power knew about the behaviors and the complaints and yet the predators continued on the payroll and abused even more students,” DeVos said.
In response to the investigation’s findings, Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced Thursday that MSU Provost June Youatt resigned from her role.
“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,” Stanley said in a statement. “In my effort to build a safe and caring campus, we must have a culture of accountability.”
Stanley said he has created an oversight committee that will directly report to him regarding the steps the school is taking to prevent future issues related to Title IX and ensure that the institution is in compliance.
The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation into Michigan State University’s handling of Title IX reports last year.
In January, ABC News reported that an Education Department preliminary report said that “Michigan State failed to compile and disclose accurate and complete crime statistics because its crime statistics did not include the sex crimes that Nassar committed during the years in which the statistics were reported.”
In addition to the fine, the school will also be required to take a number of additional steps, including hiring a Clery Compliance Officer and creating new “protective measures and expanded reporting” for student athletes.
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