Michigan State University has agreed to comply with a new protocol designed to protect patients from abuse. Sensitive medical examinations at MSU will now be “chaperoned” by authorized members of a health team. During these examinations, patients must also be provided with an “appropriate gown” and privacy for undressing and dressing.
These measures were put forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an investigation into Larry Nassar. Nassar began working at MSU in the 1980s, and held several positions with the University, including as an assistant professor at MSU’s Department of Family and Community Medicine in the College of Medicine.
A student filed a Title IX complaint against Nassar in 2014. Michigan State conducted an investigation and ultimately cleared Nassar of any wrongdoing, although they did request that he make certain changes to the manner in which he performed examinations and provided medical treatment. The dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel, was charged with ensuring that Nassar complied with the protocols. Nassar was later fired in 2016 when the University determined he had not complied with the protocols. A month later, criminal charges were filed against Nassar.
The initial charges against Nassar prompted dozes of other victims to come forward. Nassar ultimately pled guilty to a variety of charges related to the sexual abuse, as well as possessing child pornography. He will be eligible for parole when he is 105 years old. Strampel, the official charged with overseeing Nassar following the Title IX complaint, was sentenced last week to a maximum of one year in prison after he was found guilty of criminal misconduct in office and two counts of willful neglect of duty.
Nassar conducted the vast majority of his sexual assaults on individual who were his patients. He claimed that his “technique” was a type of “treatment” for a variety of physical ailments. Some victims were even molested while their parents were in the examination room.
In the wake of the Nassar fallout, the Department of Health and Human Services launched an investigation into MSU’s policies and practices surrounding examinations (HHS has authority to investigate and levy requirements as MSU receives federal funding). The Department of Justice and the Department of Education are also investigating MSU.
In addition to the requirements surrounding “chaperoning” the examinations and providing privacy for patients when changing, the University must designate an official to coordinate the acceptance, investigation, and resolution of complaints. HHS will monitor Michigan State and its health entities for three years to ensure it is complying with the agreement.