The former president of Michigan State University was arraigned Monday on charges that she lied to police about a former doctor at the school who sexually abused girls and women.
Lou Anna K. Simon, the longtime leader of Michigan State, was seated at the same table where disgraced former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced 10 months ago, an Eaton County Circuit Court official confirmed.
Simon sat behind a “defendant” sign, often with chin in hand, live coverage from WLNS-TV showed. She acknowledged that she understood the charges, amid the rapid clicking of news photographers' cameras.
Simon resigned in January after Nassar was sentenced, following an emotional outpouring by more than 150 women who testified about sexual abuse they suffered from the former sports doctor under the guise of medical treatment. Their wrenching testimony, which continued for days, forced dramatic changes at the school and national conversations about sexual misconduct.
Last week, Simon was charged with two felony and two misdemeanor counts of lying to an officer in the investigation.
An attorney for Simon, Lee Silver, said “I have not seen a shred of evidence to support these charges, which I believe are completely baseless. We are confident that when we have our day in Court, Dr. Simon will be exonerated and these charges will be proven to have no merit whatsoever.
"Larry Nassar is a monster and our hearts go out to all of his victims. But let’s not compound this tragedy by trying to convict an innocent woman of a crime that she didn’t commit.”
In 2014, Nassar was cleared in an investigation by Michigan State after a woman alleged he sexually assaulted her. Women have said they complained about the doctor to university officials as early as the 1990s.
The university agreed to settle for $500 million in May with hundreds of plaintiffs who sued over Nassar’s abuse.
In an affidavit, a detective with the Michigan State Police, William Arndt, said he and another detective asked Simon whether she was aware of any investigation of Nassar before news of his assaults became public in 2016. They questioned her in 2018 as part of the Michigan attorney general’s investigation into sexual assaults committed by Nassar on the Michigan State campus from the mid-1990s until 2016.
Simon replied that she was aware in 2014 that a sports medicine doctor was under review but was not aware of the substance of the review or the nature of the complaint until 2016, according to the affidavit.
In 2014, Arndt said in the affidavit, a university official investigated a complaint by a 24-year-old MSU graduate who said when she went to Nassar for treatment of hip pain, Nassar massaged her breast and genitals. According to the affidavit, a senior adviser met with Simon in May 2014 to discuss the sexual assault investigation against Nassar, and Simon wrote in her agenda an abbreviation for the College of Osteopathic Medicine, where Nassar worked.
Arndt said Simon made the statements “knowingly and willfully in an effort to insulate herself and MSU from criminal and civil liability … as well as to preserve the reputation of MSU.”