William Strampel, the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University who supervised Larry Nassar, was arrested on four counts today: misconduct by a public official, fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct, and two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. According to the affidavit presented this morning, Strampel groped and made inappropriate sexual comments to medical students, the Free Press reports. The Michigan Attorney General also found 50 nude photos of female students, and a video of Nassar "treating" a patient, the affidavit says.
Currently, Strampel is being held at the Ingham County Jail, and details of his arrest will be made public later today, the Associated Press reports. This arrest comes in the midst of the investigation into how Nassar, the former MSU team doctor, was able to sexually abuse more than 250 athletes for decades without the university taking action. Strampel is the first person to be arrested in connection to Nassar's crimes. If found guilty, Strampel could face five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, the Free Press reports.
"Strampel used his office to harass, discriminate, demean, sexually proposition, and sexually assault female students in violation of his statutory duty as a public office," Bill Forsyth, the special prosecutor on the case, said during a news conference today. "Strampel abused the authority of his public office, through threats and manipulation, to solicit, receive, and possess pornographic images of women who appear to be MSU students."
Although Strampel resigned from his position at MSU for medical reasons in December 2017, he has shown his support for his former colleague Nassar. In 2014, a sexual harassment complaint was filed against Nassar, and Strampel ordered Nassar to have a third person present in the room whenever performing treatments on "anything close to a sensitive area." But last year Strampel admitted to never following up on his directive. He allowed Nassar to continue seeing patients, so long as there was minimal skin-to-skin contact and a detailed explanation of his treatments.
As we know now, Nassar took advantage of his position as the team doctor at MSU and with the USA Gymnastics team, and sexually abused young gymnasts under the guise of medical "treatments" for injuries. After a marathon sentencing hearing that drew hundreds of survivors, Nassar was arrested in January and sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.
Back in 2016, Strampel told students and administrators at MSU that he didn't believe the survivors, according to the Wall Street Journal. "This just goes to show that none of you learned the most basic lesson in medicine, medicine 101, that you should have learned in your first week: Don't trust your patients," Strampel said when Nassar's allegations first came to light. "Patients lie to get doctors in trouble, and we're seeing that right now in the news with this Nassar stuff. I don't think any of these women were actually assaulted by Larry, but Larry didn't learn that lesson and didn't have a chaperone in the room, so now they see an opening and they can take advantage of him."
Last month, MSU released a statement that they would be revoking Strampel's tenure, meaning he would no longer be associated with the university. "William Strampel did not act with the level of professionalism we expect from individuals who hold senior leadership positions, particularly in a position that involves student and patient safety," Interim President John Engler said. "I sincerely hope the courageous survivors of Larry Nassar will see this as an unmistakable indication that things are changing quickly at Michigan State."
The lawyer who represents the survivors, John Manly, expressed hopefulness for the future of the investigation. "It demonstrates that [the Michigan Attorney General] is serious about investigating the systemic misconduct at MSU that led to the largest child sex abuse scandal in history and holding the responsible parties accountable," he told the Associated Press.
But discovering how Strampel played a part in Nassar's crimes is just one step into figuring out how a sexual abuse scandal of this scale went on for so long. As gold-medal Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said on the Today Show in January, "This is bigger than Larry Nassar. We have to get to the bottom of how this disaster happened. If we don’t figure out how it did, we can’t be confident that it won’t happen again."