For the last two months, Lori Menkedick and her family have called the Evergreen …
Michigan State University to Make Available Thousands of Nassar Documents, Investigation by Nessel Reopened
Michigan State University has agreed to release several thousand documents to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office after years of requests for documents related to the investigation into sexual abuse by Larry Nassar.
Elizabeth Maurer, a survivor of Nassar’s abuse, expressed her satisfaction with the MSU Board of Trustees’ unanimous decision to review and release the requested documents. Maurer emphasized the long and difficult process that led to this moment, stating, “I always knew that something was there that they didn’t want us to see and so I knew in order to be able to see it we were going to have to be vocal and outspoken and have to fight our way to see it.”
The board’s decision, however, comes with a caveat. While they voted to review and release the documents, they also stated that they reserve the right to redact certain parts before sending them to Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Valerie von Frank, a parent of a Nassar survivor, expressed her disapproval of any potential redactions, declaring, “No redactions!” She was joined by other parents and survivors who echoed her sentiment.
The Michigan State University Board of Trustees votes to review and release the 6000 documents related to the investigation into Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse after six years of requests from the state Attorney General’s Office
However, there could be redactions to the documents pic.twitter.com/5YqAuBWPU2
— Anna Liz Nichols (@annaliznichols) December 15, 2023
Larry Nassar is currently serving essentially three life sentences on child pornography charges and several charges of criminal sexual conduct across three courts. Over 150 women and girls have come forward, testifying in a Lansing court in January 2018 that Nassar abused them while serving as a physician at MSU.
In 2021, due to the university’s claim of attorney-client privilege on the documents, Nessel brought the state’s investigation into MSU’s knowledge of the abuse over the years to a close. Expressing disappointment, Nessel stated, “The university’s refusal to voluntarily provide them closes the last door available to finish our investigation. … We’re incredibly disappointed that our work will end this way, especially for the survivors.”
However, following Friday’s vote, Nessel announced that the investigation is reopened and will be expedited. She praised the MSU Board of Trustees’ decision, saying, “The students, the MSU community at-large, and most importantly, the victims of Larry Nassar have long been owed this transparency. I am encouraged to see the MSU Board of Trustees finally make the right decision on a long-promised, and long-delayed, measure of transparency.”
Nassar survivor Melissa Hudecz addresses the Michigan State University Board of Trustees ahead of an expected discussion about releasing 6000 documents that the university has withheld from Attorney General investigators who looked into Nassar’s sexual abuse at the university pic.twitter.com/PYAFvJxpaI
— Anna Liz Nichols (@annaliznichols) December 15, 2023
Prior to the vote, Melissa Hudecz, another survivor of Nassar’s abuse, spoke before the Michigan State University Board of Trustees. She emphasized the significance of the moment and the need for transparency, stating, “This is a very significant moment, it is difficult to come up here and continue to watch things go wrong at MSU if these documents aren’t released, if don’t have transparency, if we can’t trust the Board of Trustees then what was the point of everything we’ve been through as sisters.”
Valerie von Frank, the founder of POSSE (Parents of Sister Survivors Engage) and a survivor herself, described the struggle of fighting for justice, saying, “Having to beg for people to do what’s right is just not the right thing and people with a conscience and a soul should have recognized years ago that we shouldn’t have had to go through that. We shouldn’t have had to beg them for this. This is so personal to us. This is for my baby girl, Grace, and my other babies all standing here and for all of them that weren’t able to be here.”
The fight for the documents by the Attorney General’s Office has spanned two attorneys general, with former Attorney General Bill Schuette sharing his thoughts on the board’s decision. Schuette, who oversaw the state prosecution of Nassar and initiated the investigation, stated, “It’s been a long wait, one challenging for the Sister Survivors, but the MSU Board of Trustees have finally released the important documents I asked for in 2018 concerning the horrific behavior of Larry Nassar. I and my team, led by Angie Povilaitis, put Larry Nassar behind bars and the release of these files is an important step forward towards an open and transparent review of the actions within MSU.”
Despite Nassar’s imprisonment and the prosecution of university employees, Danielle Moore, a survivor of Nassar’s abuse and a board member of The Army of Survivors, emphasized the need for MSU to learn from the past and improve their efforts in preventing sexual violence on campus.
Angelika Martinez-McGhee, another survivor, expressed the importance of showing up and being present in the fight, stating, “Throughout all of this time, it’s the showing up and being present that has really pushed this along. I think if we weren’t as vocal and just being there in person, I don’t think we would have gotten this far without demanding it.”
She also extended her gratitude to the students and alumni of MSU who have supported the survivor community throughout the process.
While the survivors and parents consider the vote a victory, they are cautious about the board’s change of heart and the potential for further resistance from the university. Nevertheless, they remain determined to continue their fight for justice.
Hudecz expressed her hope that the board’s decision is a commitment to seeing the process through, saying, “I just really hope that the people who said yes today are saying yes to seeing this all the way through, the right way.”