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Michigan State trustees approve release of Larry Nassar documents to state official

FILE - Disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar appears in court for a plea hearing, Nov. 22, 2017, in Lansing, Mich. Women sexually assaulted by imprisoned former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar have filed a lawsuit, Thursday, July 27, 2023, claiming school officials made “secret decisions” about releasing documents in the case. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Paul Sancya/AP
FILE - Disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar appears in court for a plea hearing, Nov. 22, 2017, in Lansing, Mich.

Trustees at Michigan State University agreed Friday to release documents to the state attorney general related to the school's investigations into now-imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar.

The East Lansing school's trustees unanimously voted to finally turn over the documents, which first will be reviewed by the school's general counsel before they're released.

There will be redactions of sensitive and personal privacy information. The school had argued that the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege.

In its resolution, the board said Michigan State will develop and implement a plan to support those who might experience trauma when the documents are released.

Women who were sexually assaulted by Nassar filed a lawsuit in July against Michigan State and the trustee board, saying school officials made “secret decisions” about releasing documents in the case.

They said the school refused to give the attorney general’s office more than 6,000 documents for an investigation into how Nassar was allowed to get away with his behavior, and later wouldn’t turn over emails about the board of trustees’ decision-making.

Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison after he admitted to molesting some of the nation’s top gymnasts for years under the guise of medical treatment. He was accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of women and girls.

Michigan State has been criticized for its handling of the Nassar investigation and its dealings with survivors in the aftermath of his arrest and conviction. The school has settled lawsuits filed by Nassar survivors for $500 million.

Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement following Friday's vote that her office will review the documents and reopen and expedite its investigation as soon as they are received.

“The students, the MSU community at-large, and most importantly, the victims of Larry Nassar have long been owed this transparency," Nessel said. “I am encouraged to see the MSU Board of Trustees finally make the right decision on a long-promised, and long-delayed, measure of transparency.”

Nessel previously had asked the school to release the documents to help shine a light on what the school knew about Nassar's abuse. She ended her investigation of the school’s handling of the Nassar case in 2021 because the university refused to provide documents related to the scandal.

Board Chair Rema Vassar called the decision to release the documents “a critical and welcomed step forward.”

“We also know that revisiting this investigation will be painful for many, and we will diligently work to provide the utmost compassion, care, and supportive resources to those who need it most,” Vassar said.

Nassar survivor Amanda Cormier told the board prior to Friday's vote that she appreciates the body finally was to consider releasing the documents.

“I truly believe that the culture of MSU will not heal until the documents are released, and we learn more about the culture of MSU that allow this to happen to so many people,” Cormier said.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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