GRAND RAPIDS, MI (WLNS) – Michigan State University will provide legal counsel to some of the co-defendants named in a civil lawsuit against former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Nassar is accused of using his position as a doctor to digitally penetrate young women and girls, many of whom were minors at the time, while treating them for their injuries.
Co-defendants named in the civil suit include Michigan State University, the MSU Board of Trustees, former MSU Gymnastics Coach Kathie Klages, MSU Dean of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel, Jeffrey Kovan, former clinical psychologist Gary Stollak, USA Gymnastics, Inc., Twistars USA Inc., and its owner John Geddert.
The plaintiffs named other defendants in addition to Nassar because they say people and institutions knew about the abuse but failed to report it or do anything to prevent it.
In some of the civil cases, MSU, it’s Board of Trustees, Nassar, Stollak, and USA Gymnastics have not yet had attorneys file on their behalf.
University spokesperson Jason Cody says MSU has not yet been served with a vast majority of the civil lawsuits yet.
He said the law firms Skadden Arps and Miller Canfield have been engaged since October 2016 and January 2017 to represent the university in all aspects of this matter.
Klages, Kovan, and Strampel are being sued in both their individual and official capacity.
Klages no longer works at MSU, Kovan and Strampel are still employed. According to Cody, the university will provide legal counsel for them as stated in the university’s indemnification policy.
All three are being represented by Detroit-based attorneys from Clark Hill and Miller Canfield.
Cody said Stollak is not indemnified by the university because he did not perform clinical work in his role with MSU.
John Geddert and Twistars have representation from a Farmington Hills based firm Zausmer August & Caldwell, P.C.
Michigan State University has said in previous statements that it only became aware of a complaint in 2014 and investigated. The investigation resulted in rules of conduct that Nassar admits he didn’t always follow. MSU fired him after he acknowledged that late last year.
Other people named in the lawsuit, including the former MSU gymnastics coach and the gymnastics club and club coach, have also denied knowing anything about allegations of abuse and denied failing to report such abuse.
Nassar’s attorneys, Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith have not filed an appearance on Nassar’s behalf in any of the civil lawsuits, only the criminal case.
They declined to comment on whether or not they will be representing Nassar in the civil suits.
Nassar faces some two dozen sexual assault charges at the state level and child pornography charges at the federal level. Michigan State University Police says it has received more than 100 complaints against Nassar since September 2016. They say new reports are filed almost weekly.
Nassar has maintained his innocence saying he used legitimate medical techniques and that he’s not guilty of any criminal charges. He remains behind bars while he awaits his criminal proceedings.
USA Gymnastics has not had an attorney file on its behalf.
When a defendant is served, they have a certain amount of time to respond. Personal service requires a response in 21 days; certified mail requires a response in 28 days.