The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon resigned over her handling of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.
Earlier that day, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. During his trial, 156 women spoke to the court about Nassar’s decades-long pattern of sexual abuse.
In addition to being the physician for the United State gymnastics squad, Nassar performed similar work for two Michigan State women’s varsity teams and was a member of the Michigan State faculty for several years.
In her resignation letter Simon acknowledged Nassar’s victims’ pain over some “horrific” encounters with the doctor, but denied any “cover-up” on the part of the administration:
“The survivors’ accounts are horrific. They are tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching. I take solace that many victims have indicated that the opportunity to confront Nassar is a step toward healing. I am proud of the exceptional work of the Special Victims Unit led by Lieutenant Andrea Munford with the steadfast leadership of Chief Dunlap. I am proud of my support of their work even though the results have been very painful to all who watched…. As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me. I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up.”
Simon also wrote in her letter than she had “planned to retire in December 2016” when “the Indianapolis Star article appeared about USAG and one of the victims contacted MSU police to file a complaint.” As the investigation progressed, Simon wrote, she decided to postpone her resignation.