EAST LANSING, Mich. – A sexual abuse scandal at Michigan State University widened Tuesday as authorities charged a medical school official with failing to keep former sports doctor Larry Nassar in line and accused him of groping female students and storing nude student selfies on his campus computer.
William Strampel, 70, is the first person charged since a broad investigation was launched in January into how Michigan State handled complaints against Nassar, who for years sexually abused girls and young women, especially gymnasts.
Strampel was dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine until December. He was Nassar’s boss, yet he failed to enforce restrictions on him after a female patient in 2014 complained about sexual contact, authorities alleged.
Strampel spent Monday night in jail ahead of an arraignment Tuesday afternoon. His attorney, John Dakmak, declined to comment.
The complaint, which alleges Strampel solicited nude photos from at least one female medical student, said he used his office to “harass, discriminate, demean, sexually proposition and sexually assault female students in violation of his statutory duty as a public officer.”
His computer contained approximately 50 photos of female genitalia, nude and semi-nude women, sex toys and pornography. “Many of these photos are of what appear to be ‘selfies’ of female MSU students, as evidence by the MSU clothing and piercings featured in multiple photos,” according to the complaint.
He is also accused of grabbing students’ buttocks at the college’s annual ball and a scholarship dinner.
The maximum penalty for the charges ranges from one year in jail to five years in prison.
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography and is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. Strampel is accused of letting Nassar continue to treat patients unchecked by protocols that were supposedly put in place — thus allowing Nassar to “commit a host of sexual assaults against new victims until, following news reports of additional allegations against Nassar, MSU finally terminated his employment over two years later,” the complaint says.
Strampel announced his leave of absence as college dean — for medical reasons — in December.
Strampel told police last year that he never followed up after ordering Nassar in 2014 to have a third person present when providing treatment to “anything close to a sensitive area,” and that any skin-to-skin contact should be minimal and explained in detail.
Nassar was fired in 2016 for violating that rule. His dismissal came less than a month after former gymnast Rachael Denhollander filed a criminal complaint saying Nassar had sexually assaulted her with his hands while treating her for back pain years earlier.
Strampel told a campus detective and FBI agent in 2017 that he did not check to see if Nassar was following the guidance because Nassar had been “exonerated” in an investigation of a patient’s complaint and that the imposed guidelines were “health care 101.” At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the probe ended, including many during which Nassar made ungloved skin-to-skin contact when no chaperone was present, according to a university police report.
The school has also come under scrutiny for not sharing the full conclusions of the Title IX investigation with Amanda Thomashow, the woman who complained. A simultaneous campus police probe of Nassar resulted in no charges being filed. And a teen’s 2004 complaint to Meridian Township police also led to no charges after Nassar offered an aggressive defense and insisted he was using a legitimate medical technique.
In February, interim Michigan State President John Engler announced plans to fire Strampel, who still has tenure that protects his employment as a faculty member.
More than 250 girls and women have sued Michigan State, Strampel and other current and former university officials, USA Gymnastics — where Nassar also worked — and others. Roughly 200 women gave statements in two courtrooms over 10 days of proceedings.
John Manly, a lawyer for many of the victims, said his clients were encouraged by the development.
“It demonstrates that (Schuette) is serious about investigating the systemic misconduct at MSU that led to the largest child sex-abuse scandal in history and holding the responsible parties accountable,” he said.
A Michigan State spokeswoman said the university would continue cooperating with any investigations and pointed to Engler’s past statements.
“William Strampel did not act with the level of professionalism we expect from individuals who hold senior leadership positions, particularly in a position that involves student and patient safety,” Engler said last month.