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Education Department opens investigation into Michigan State in wake of Nassar scandal

The U.S. Education Department is opening an investigation into Michigan State University’s handling of Larry Nassar, the former university doctor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting women and girls. (Jeff Kowalsky, AFP/Getty Images.)

The Education Department is launching an additional investigation at Michigan State University, already under scrutiny for its handling of sexual abuse complaints, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Monday.

The public university has been in turmoil since a former sports medicine doctor there, Larry Nassar, was convicted of sexually abusing scores of girls over many years. At sentencing hearings, many young women said their complaints had been ignored. Public outrage forced the ouster of the school’s longtime president last month, and interim president John Engler has promised full cooperation with investigations underway.

Protests, teach-ins and calls for the board of trustees to resign continue at Michigan State. Spokesmen for the university did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

After the Nassar sentencing, a silent reckoning at Michigan State

The new federal investigation will look at systemic issues in the way university officials handled incidents involving Nassar, the education secretary explained. It will explore whether the university remained in compliance with Title IX law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex at federally funded schools.

A team of Education Department officials is joining others in East Lansing, Mich., already looking into whether the public university has been in compliance with federal requirements to report crimes committed on campus.

“The crimes for which Dr. Nassar has been convicted are unimaginable,” DeVos said in a written statement. “The bravery shown by the survivors has been remarkable. My heart goes out to them as they have had to relive their horrific experiences and as they begin the long road to healing.”