Judge Scolds Prosecutors Trying Again to Charge Ex-MSU President in Nassar-Related Case

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Gleicher scolded state prosecutors trying again to charge former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon regarding allegations she had lied during an investigation in 2018 relating to Larry Nassar.

The Michigan Court of Appeals confirmed an earlier decision to dismiss a case against Simon by an Eaton County judge. It was decided in a 3-0 vote that there was not enough evidence to send her to trial.

"The historical background supports that the goal was to exact retribution for MSU's failure to stop Nassar rather than to pursue justice for criminal wrongdoing," Gleicher said in a 14-page opinion. "Dr. Simon was one of the scapegoats selected to justify that effort."

Simon had been accused of lying to investigators when they tried to discover her knowledge regarding sexual assault complaints involving Larry Nassar.

Law enforcement alleged that Simon knew about the nature of a 2014 accusation against Nassar claiming he molested a patient in a campus clinic. However, Simon said that she only had knowledge of a complaint being filed against a sports doctor and didn't know anything in particular about Nassar until 2016.

Lou Anna Simon, Ruling Affirmation, Larry Nassar
In a 3-0 opinion on Tuesday, December 21, the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed that there was insufficient evidence to send former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon to trial regarding an earlier investigation into Larry Nassar. Above, Simon, center, listens during a preliminary hearing at the Eaton County Courthouse on June 11, 2019, in Charlotte, Michigan. Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File

It was the second major Nassar-related decision this week from the same three-judge panel at the appeals court, which also overturned the conviction of former Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages in a 2-1 opinion.

Nassar, who was a campus sports doctor as well as a doctor for USA Gymnastics, is serving a decadeslong prison sentence. Hundreds of women and girls, mostly gymnasts, said he molested them during visits for hip, back and leg injuries.

Gleicher said "there can be no debate" that Michigan State "grossly mishandled" complaints about Nassar long before Simon became president. But she questioned why the attorney general's office, first under Bill Schuette and now Dana Nessel, would investigate MSU after Nassar was locked up.

Gleicher said the prosecution was "designed to punish and humiliate Dr. Simon for the sins of MSU, not to provide justice for Nassar's victims or to vindicate the legitimate purposes of the law penalizing those who lie to the police."

The attorney general's office said it was considering whether to ask the state Supreme Court to take the case. The court could decline.

"The department followed the evidence where it led. Any claim otherwise is unfounded," spokeswoman Lynsey Mukomel said Wednesday.

Simon quit as president in January 2018, hours after Nassar was sentenced to prison following days of wrenching testimony from his victims.

The scandal was a disaster for Michigan State. It agreed to pay $500 million to victims. Separately, the U.S. Education Department ordered the school to make sweeping changes and pay a $4.5 million penalty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lou Anna Simon, Ruling Affirmation, Larry Nassar
Law enforcement alleged that former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon knew about a molestation accusation made in 2014 against Larry Nassar, who was a campus sports doctor as well as a doctor for USA Gymnastics, and who is now serving a decadeslong prison sentence. In this photo, Nassar stands as he is sentenced by Judge Janice Cunningham for three counts of criminal sexual assault in Eaton County Circuit Court on February 5, 2018, in Charlotte, Michigan. Scott Olson/Getty Images