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Should Nassar's former boss be fired? One MSU trustee says yes.

Dr. William Strampel
Michigan State University

Less than 24 hours after Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon stepped down over the school’s handling of Larry Nassar, two trustees are divided over whether Nassar’s former boss, Dr. William Strampel, should be the next to go.

Strampel, who stepped down as the Dean of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine last month on medical leave, is still receiving his full salary. He failed to enforce safety protocols he put in place for Nassar following a 2014 sexual assault complaint. 

According to MSU's 2014 salary database that includes employee names, Strampel made $359,626 that year. The university stopped publishing names the following year. However, this Mlive database puts his salary at $383,379 in 2015. University officials did not respond to a request for his current salary.

Strampel told MSU Police last year that he “did not see the need to follow up to ensure that [Nassar] was complying with the guidelines [like wearing gloves, or having a chaperone for sensitive exams] that were common sense for all physicians.” Had those been enforced in 2014, multiple women and girls told the court they would never have been assaulted by Nassar. Instead, they say, the abuse continued unabated until 2016.

Asked if Strampel, who is still on faculty, should be fired, MSU Board of Trustee Vice Chair Joel Ferguson said no on Thursday. “He has cancer and a serious heart condition – now what do you think we should do about that?”

But fellow Trustee Dianne Byrum says it’s past time for Strampel to leave the university. “I strongly disagree with Trustee Joel Ferguson and his continued irresponsible, insensitive comments which are making a terrible situation even worse,” Byrum said in a statement Thursday. “I have been clear and consistent with fellow board members that Dean Strampel should be held fully accountable and should be terminated from the university.”

A voicemail left with Strampel’s home phone Thursday was not immediately returned.

Rachael Denhollander called out Strampel specifically in court Wednesday, saying he’s a key example of where MSU failed to stop a child predator.

In August of 2016, a reporter with the Indianapolis Star reached out to Nassar to request an interview, after Denhollander told the newspaper Nassar abused her under the guise of medical treatment.  

“And what was the response of officials in MSU?” Denhollander asked the court. “Dean William Strampel, the head of the college of osteopathy, immediately wrote Larry an email and told him ‘Good luck, I’m on your side….’"

“And when my video testimony came out in the Indystar,graphically describing the abuse Larry perpetrated, disclosing horrific details to the world that no one was ever supposed to know, Dean Strampel forwarded that video to the MSU provost, and he mocked me. He called it the ‘cherry on the cake of his day.’”

Two years before Denhollander came forward, another woman, Amanda Thomashow, made a Title IX complaint against Nassar for groping and molesting her during an appointment. According to Strampel’s interview with MSU Police last year, Strampel was told “a patient had alleged possible abuse by Nassar,” and he immediately removed “Nassar from clinical duties and ordered him to have no patient contact.” The school’s then-Title IX investigator, Kristine Moore, conducted the investigation and forwarded her findings clearing Nassar to Strampel in July of 2014.

Strampel sent Nassar an email that same day, laying out an agreement as to how Nassar would proceed when treating patients.

1) “We will have another person (resident, nurse, etc) in the room whenever we are approaching a patient to perform procedures of anything close to a sensitive area. 2) “The procedure which caused the patient emotional distress because of her interpretation will be modified in the future to be sure that there is little to no skin contact when in these regions. Should be this be absolutely necessary, the procedure will be explained in detail with another person in the room for both the explanation and procedure. 3) “New people in our practice will be oriented to be sure they understand these requirements.”

Nassar was then allowed to return to work treating patients at MSU, even though the MSU Police continued to investigate him criminally for more than a year.

When police talked with Strampel in March of 2017, he told them he never followed up or enforced those guidelines with Nassar. While Strampel couldn’t recall whether he forwarded those policies to another administrator, Dr. Douglas Dietzel, as well, “he did not share the email or guidelines with anybody else,” the police report says.

“When asked about accountability and follow-up to ensure that Dr. Nassar was complying with the guidelines, Strampel said that having a chaperone in the room when performing a sensitive exam is ‘Healthcare 101’ and all doctors learn this in medical school," the report says.

"Strampel said because Dr. Nassar was ‘cleared of all charges’ and ‘exonerated,’ he did not see the need to follow-up to ensure that he was complying with the guidelines that were common sense for all physicians.

“Strampel also said he had to be conscious of sharing with other employees in Sports Medicine (specifically nurses and medical assistants) because they did not know about the investigation that had taken place, and since Dr. Nassar was cleared of all wrong doing, he didn’t feel it was appropriate to tell them about it.”

Police also interviewed Dr. Douglas Dietzel, the clinic director for MSU Sports Medicine. He recalls Strampel telling him about the sexual assault allegations against Nassar in 2016, and that Strampel said “Larry didn’t follow the guidelines” put in place in 2014.

“Dietzel said when he heard that that he thought, ‘How do we enforce those things when we don’t even know about them?’”

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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