Simon’s attorney say the prosecution’s case, a branch of the Nassar scandal, is based on nothing but speculation.
It may be months before former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon heads to trial, accused of covering up the crimes of pedophile physician Larry Nassar.
Simon is charged with multiple counts of lying to a peace officer. The four charges, if convicted successfully, add up to a decade behind bars.
All four charges, writes The State News, stem from a 2014 Title IX investigation. Triggered after Amanda Thomashow accused Nassar of molestation, the probe dug deep. It revealed troubling inconsistencies between Nassar’s techniques and ordinary medicine.
Despite past allegations against the doctor—and other osteopaths saying his methods were, at best, unconventional—Nassar was allowed to remain in his position. He didn’t leave Michigan State until 2016, when The Indianapolis Star published further claims against him.
While Simon initially slid under the radar—even refusing to resign long into the scandal’s wake—she attracted renewed attention last year. Many Michigan State students have charged her with complicity, allowing Nassar to continue his practice even as accusations mounted against him.
Simon, for her part, has said she was generally unaware. In a statement to police, the former university president said she knew Nassar was under review in 2014 but wasn’t familiar with “the substance” of the complaint or its “nature.”
However, Simon’s story has, at times, appeared to contradict itself. For instance, she told investigators she wasn’t aware of any specific complaints against Nassar until 2016. But other Michigan State officials testified saying she’d been briefed on the Title IX complaint in 2014.
Defense attorneys working the case have been keen to point out that some inconsistences could be explained by elapsed time.
“We obviously know that Dr. Simon’s memory is not perfect when it comes to remembering things four years early,” one of Simon’s lawyers, Lee Silver, said.
Silver also pointed out that Simon’s schedule, as president, was often full and usually hectic. Pointing to witness testimony, Silver noted that Simon had anywhere between 10 and 12 meetings per day.
“If you do the math,” he said, “this means that Dr. Simon literally had almost 10,000 meetings” between the date of the Title IX complaint and her resignation.
But prosecutors say the timeline and Simon’s differing statements suggest she was trying to save the school from scandal.
“I don’t doubt her commitment to her college at all,” said Assistant Attorney General Scott Teter. “In fact, it’s probably that commitment that lands her here today.”
But Simon’s attorneys are still standing firm. During Simon’s last hearing, in late July, prosecutors had seven days to present evidence against the long-time president—even then, in that week, they weren’t able to scrounge up a single witness or document indicating that Simon was ever even told Nassar’s name.
“There is simply no evidence on this record to support that conclusion,” Silver said. “There is nothing more than speculation, conjecture and assumptions. That’s the whole prosecution case.”