The man responsible for convicting two former Illinois governors, a vice presidential adviser, and Osama bin Laden is working with Michigan State University as it investigates cases of sexual assault against a former employee.
Larry Nassar faces sexual assault charges on the state level, child pornography charges at the federal level, and several civil lawsuits by dozens of women who claim the one-time MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor abused them. The Michigan Attorney General is handling an investigation into the state charges. The U.S. Attorney’s office is handling the federal charges.
That’s where Patrick Fitzgerald comes in. Fitzgerald, himself a former U.S. Attorney in Illinois, successfully prosecuted two governors there: George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.
He also tried a case against “Scooter” Libby, who was accused of outing a former CIA agent and lying to federal agents about it. Fitzgerald also tried a case against Osama bin Laden for attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. That’s all according to his biography at his current firm.
A statement today from the chairperson of the Board of Trustees says Fitzgerald is reviewing facts in the Nassar case and “providing guidance” as to how they university can conduct the review without interfering in the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney’s investigations.
“The board wants to make clear its commitment to actively monitoring this situation and working with the president to ensure appropriate action,” said Brian Breslin, chair of the trustees in a statement released today. “We are meeting with these external counsels to ensure the work is conducted fully and thoroughly, and as facts are gathered and reviewed, we will ensure appropriate action is taken.”
The statements come a day after the program “60 Minutes” highlighted accusations by three former gymnasts that Nassar abused them while working as a trainer at a Texas facility.
There are also allegations that three of Nassar’s alleged victims told two MSU employees about the abuse – both in 1997 and 2004 – though a university spokesman says they weren’t aware of allegations against Nassar until 2014.
MSU President Lou Anna Simon called the investigation “the (MSU Police) department’s top priority” and wants anyone with complaints against Nassar to contact them.
“We are deeply disturbed by the state and federal charges leading to the arrest of Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University employee,” she said in a new statement today. “Our hearts go out to those most directly affected.”
Nassar has maintained his innocence in both state and federal court and says he performed accepted medical techniques on his patients.