Woman who prompted MSU investigation against Nassar files suit

FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, file photo, Dr. Larry Nassar listens to testimony of a witness during a preliminary hearing, in Lansing, Mich. The former sports doctor at Michigan State University who specialized in treating gymnasts has been charged with sexual assault. Dr. Nassar was charged Wednesday, Feb. 22, in two Michigan counties. Online records show he's facing nine charges in Ingham county, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct against a victim under age 13. Nassar had a clinic at Michigan State, where he treated members of the gymnastics team and younger regional gymnasts. (Robert Killips/Lansing State Journal via AP, File)

The woman who prompted Michigan State University’s investigation into Dr. Larry Nassar has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Nassar, the university, and others.

Nassar, a former doctor for MSU and for USA Gymnastics, faces more than 20 state criminal charges of sexual assault, federal charges of child pornography, and other civil lawsuits with more than 70 women making similar accusations.

Some of those plaintiffs say they reported Nassar’s behavior to officials or employees at MSU as far back as the late 1990’s, but the complaint filed in 2014 by Jane AAA Doe – who filed her lawsuit today – is the only one that the university acknowledges having heard.

The suit tells a story of a doctor’s appointment on March 24, 2014.

It says that Jane AAA Doe, a woman who had graduated in 2012 from MSU but returned as a student Lifelong Education program, went to see Nassar for hip pain. Doe describes Nassar’s behavior as “acting ‘goofy’ and being ‘too touchy.’”

The suit says Nassar told Doe that her boyfriend needed to give better massages, then cupped her buttocks over her sweatpants. It says he also told a resident doctor, the only other person present, to leave the room.

The suit says Nassar than massaged the woman’s breast under shirt for 20-40 seconds “despite Plaintiff saying that it was not helping her pain in any manner” – and then, without warning or consent, massaged her vaginal area for 90 seconds “despite Plaintiff expressly telling him to stop.”

She claims in the suit that Nassar “did not stop touching Plaintiff until she physically removed his hands from her body.”

The lawsuit says Doe reported what happened to another doctor about three weeks later, and that the doctor forwarded her complaint to MSU’s Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Activities.

But Doe says the final report left out important details, including Nassar’s arousal and the fact that he didn’t stop his behavior until she physically made him.

The suit, which names Nassar, MSU, USA Gymnastics, and the Lansing gymnastics club Twistars as defendants, says all three organizations known or should have known about Nassar’s behavior because it had been reported to them earlier.

It says MSU acted “with indifference and in a clearly unreasonable manner by failing to respond to the allegations of sexual assault, abuse, and molestation.”

Other civil lawsuits suggest that MSU had heard complaints against Nassar as far back as 1997 or 1998. It makes similar claims against USA Gymnastics and says that the owner of Twistars also failed to investigate a 1998 complaint.

The 90 page lawsuit includes 33 counts against Nassar, MSU, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars including negligence and gross negligence, a negligent failure to warn or protect, a negligent failure to train or educate Nassar, intention infliction of emotional distress, and fraud and misrepresentation.

It also makes civil rights claims against MSU and counts of assault and battery and invasion of privacy against Nassar.

Nassar and his attorneys say he’s not guilty of the charges against him and that he performed legitimate medical techniques.

A spokesman for MSU says it did not know of any complaints against Nassar until Jane AAA Doe filed her complaint in 2014. The university says it investigated and imposed rules and regulations for Nassar to abide by in the wake of that complaint. MSU fired Nassar in September of 2016 after the scandal involving USA Gymnastics broke. That’s when MSU said it learned Nassar had not always followed the guidelines it had set out. Those guidelines included minimal skin to skin contact, an explanation of sensitive procedures before undertaking them, and the presence of another medical professional in the room.

Twistars, in a previous statement, has said “the safety and overall well-being of our athletes is – and has always been – our No. 1 priority. We have many policies in place that are designed to protect our athletes, and we have always taken this responsibility seriously.”

The club says it had “zero knowledge of any of the allegations against Dr. Nassar, who was never an employee of Twistars.”

The Michigan State University police are continuing to investigate allegations against Nassar. The chief says the department has received more than 90 complaints about Nassar.

Nassar is behind bars while he awaits his state and federal criminal trials.

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