- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Education Department slapped Michigan State University with a record $4.5 million fine Thursday as part of an agreement over the school’s “systemic failure” to protect students from serial molester Dr. Larry Nassar.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the fine was the largest ever levied under the Clery Act, which requires universities that receive federal student aid to issue timely reports on campus crime and notify students of threats.

“What transpired at Michigan State was abhorrent, inexcusable, and a total and complete failure to follow the law and protect students,” said Ms. DeVos in a Thursday statement.

The department found that MSU committed four violations of the Clery Act from 2011-17, including failing to classify properly incidents and disclose crime statistics; issue timely campus warnings about crimes; and develop the administrative capability to comply with the act.

The fine is nearly double the $2.4 million Clery Act fine levied against Penn State in October 2016 stemming from the child sex-abuse case against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Nassar is serving lengthy state and federal sentences that will keep him in prison for life after being convicted in 2017 and 2018 on child pornography, sexual assault and sexual assault on minors. Dr. William Strampel, the former MSU dean of osteopathic medicine, was sentenced last month to a year in jail for felony misconduct in office and neglect of duty.

“The crimes for which Larry Nassar and William Strampel have been convicted are disgusting and unimaginable,” Ms. DeVos said on a press call. “So, too, was the university’s response to their crimes. This must not happen again, there or anywhere else.”

The university is also required to hire a Clery compliance officer; establish a Clery compliance committee, and create a system to protect student athletes and minors who participate in university-sponsored athletic programs.

In addition, the department entered into a resolution agreement with MSU to overhaul its Title IX compliance procedures, encourage other possible Nassar victims to come forward, and review the response of staffers who may have known about the sexual misconduct but failed to take action.

“This resolution should demonstrate, beyond any doubt, this administration’s commitment to the vigorous enforcement of civil rights,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus. “There should be no question that we will hold colleges and universities accountable if they perpetuate sexual violence by failing to meet their obligations under Title IX.”

In February, the department launched two separate investigations by the Office of Federal Student Aid and Office for Civil Rights, which involved interviewing 47 witnesses, including survivors.

“I want to thank each of the survivors who came forward and shared their stories,” Ms. DeVos said. “Doing so took an incredible amount of courage. Never again should incidents of sexual misconduct on campuses — or anywhere — be swept under the rug.”

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley said Thursday he had accepted the resignation of Provost June Youatt in response to the department’s Office for Civil Rights letter of findings.

He also announced the formation of an oversight committee to ensure the university is “fully responsive” to the department’s findings.

“I’m grateful for the thoroughness of these investigations and intend to use them as a blueprint for action,” Mr. Stanley said in a statement.

The Nassar case has rocked MSU since the sexual-assault allegations surfaced in 2015. He has been accused of molesting as many as 250 victims in his work with MSU and USA Gymnastics, including Olympic gymnasts.

Then-MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon resigned in January 2018 and has been charged in Eaton County with lying about a 2014 sexual-assault complaint.

Last month, MSU entered into an agreement with the Health and Human Services Department to establish a chaperone policy, consent-to-treat form for patients and “triage protocol” to review complaints about patient-practitioner interactions.

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