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The secret Nassar report MSU didn’t want his abuse victim to see

Larry Nassar
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio
MSU cleared Nassar of sexual abuse in a 2014 Title IX investigation. But they withheld a confidential version of that report from the woman who complained.

The same day that Michigan State University’s Title IX office cleared Larry Nassar of sexual abuse in July of 2014, a confidential version of the school’s report was sent to both Nassar and his boss,Dr. William Strampel, who has since stepped down as Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

A redacted version of that report was also sent to Amanda Thomashow,  the woman who brought the complaint against Nassar to the school. In it, the school told Thomashow that Nassar’s treatments were not sexual – even though they included massaging her breast, butt, and touching her “with three fingers in a circular motion in her vaginal area,” even after she told Nassar, “Stop, you’re hurting me.”

Credit Emma Winowiecki/ Michigan Radio
Amanda Thomashow, far left, told MSU in 2014 that Nassar had sexually abused her during treatment. The school's Title IX investigation cleared Nassar, but withheld findings from Thomashow that Nassar's behavior was "problematic," traumatic for patients, and opened the school up to liability.

But the unredacted version tells administrators that Nassar’s behavior was “frankly, troubling,” “problematic,” and caused Thomashow “trauma” that is “deeply felt and not short term.” Not only did Nassar fail to communicate to Thomashow that he was going to touch her in sensitive areas, he also had a medical assistant leave the room, and made comments about her period and told Thomashow her boyfriend should give her better massages.

Ultimately, Nassar’s behavior, the confidential report said, “is opening the practice up to liability and exposing patients to unnecessary trauma…”

That same day, Nassar’s boss, Dr. William Strampel, sent Nassar a list of protocols they’d agreed he would follow from that time forward:

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 reinstated and allowed to resume treating patients, even though an MSU Police Department criminal investigation into Thomashow’s complaint continued for more than a year. During Nassar’s criminal sentencing this month, several women and girls said they were assaulted after that 2014 reinstatement, up until he was fired in September of 2016. 

Dr. Strampel also told police he never intended to follow up to make sure Nassar was, in fact, abiding by those protocols. According to the police report: 

"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.”

Strampel, who stepped down last month as Dean and is on medical leave, remains on MSU’s faculty and is still receiving his full salary, according to the college. Strampel made $383,379 annually as of 2015, according to an MLive database.

Two of Michigan State’s Trustees disagree as to whether Strampel should be fired.

Vice Chair Joel Ferguson said Thursday, “He has cancer and a serious heart condition – now what do you think we should do about that?”

But fellow Trustee Dianne Byrum disagrees. “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.”

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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