Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel calls for new MSU board to turn over Nassar documents

By: - April 17, 2023 8:01 am
A statue on MSU's campus adorned with a teal ribbon

A survivor ribbon pinned on the statue of former MSU President John Hannah after John Engler’s resignation | Michael Gerstein

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has renewed her request that Michigan State University provide all remaining documents pertaining to the department’s investigation of disgraced former Dr. Larry Nassar.

The request from the Democratic AG came in a letter sent Friday to the MSU Board of Trustees, which is composed of six Democrats, one Republican and one independent, Sandy Pierce, who Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed in December and told the State News she “doesn’t identify with either major political party.”

The board also has new leadership, having elected Trustee Rema Vassar as board chair, the first Black woman to serve in that position.

Attorney General Dana Nessel on March 15, 2023. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

A previous request by Nessel for the records was submitted in 2021 by MSU officials, who refused to voluntarily waive privilege to thousands of documents involving Nassar, forcing her to conclude her inquiry without them. 

At the time, then-MSU Board Chair Dianne Byrum, who still serves on the board and is a former longtime Democratic lawmaker, said the denial of Nessel’s request was necessary in order to maintain attorney-client privilege. 

However, in an interview last month with WKAR-FM, Vassar indicated she was open to resolving the impasse.

“I think that transparency is important for healing and for trust,” she said. “And so, yes, that’s still an item for me, an immediate item for me as we go into the rest of this year.”

Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics and MSU doctor, abused more than 150 student athletes. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct and admitted to using his trusted medical position to assault young women under the guise of medical treatment. The following year, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.

Approximately 6,000 documents remain withheld by the University and, in her letter to the board, the attorney general appealed for their full and unredacted release.

“A resolution and comprehensive conclusion are the priorities and benefit all those associated with the Nassar matter,” stated the letter. “We remain committed as ever to pursuing justice for the many survivors of Larry Nassar’s violence at the University, and I hope the newly comprised board shares that commitment with us more meaningfully than their predecessors.”

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King is the Senior Reporter for the Michigan Advance and has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2022 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell.