Report: Michigan State violated Clery Act over Nassar, other crime reporting
- Michigan State University showed a "lack of administrative capability" in not investigating and halting the abuses of athletes by team doctor Larry Nassar while broadly failing to meet federal standards for campus safety and crime reporting over several years, per a 46-page report from the U.S. Department of Education.
- Issued in December but recently obtained by ESPN, the report said findings — including the university's failure to act upon evidence of Nassar's "two-decade long predatory and abusive behavior" — constitute "serious violations" of the Clery Act. It gave Michigan State until Feb. 12 to respond, and fines may be forthcoming.
- Federal officials' year-old review of police records, disciplinary reports and other data about crime on campus showed several other instances where Michigan State failed to warn students and accurately report crimes, including assaults, burglaries and robberies taking place in athletics, Greek life and residence halls. The report also noted issues identifying and training those responsible for reporting crimes.
The Nassar scandal and administrators' alleged responses to it have brought Michigan State under the microscope.
In May, the university announced it agreed to pay $425 million to 332 victims and $75 million to future claimants. And in November, the state attorney general's office filed criminal charges against its ex-President Lou Anna Simon for allegedly mishandling complaints about Nassar. Last month, a special counsel report said the university was stonewalling an investigation into the scandal with legal maneuvers and misleading statements.
Since then, Michigan State's interim president, former Michigan Gov. John Engler, resigned amid threats of being ousted by the board following remarks that some of Nassar's victims were "still enjoying" being in the "spotlight."
The latest report points to broader issues with training around who is responsible for reporting what kinds of incidents occurring on campus. The Detroit News reported that at least 14 Michigan State representatives were aware of Nassar's behavior in the two decades leading up to his 2016 arrest. Among them were athletic trainers, coaches and a university police detective, according to The News.
The 1990 Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to report crime data and security concerns and warn students about threats.
Though the typical fine for a single Clery Act violation is around $56,000, colleges often settle for less. But the fines for single incidents can add up.
This past fall, the University of Montana was fined nearly $1 million under the act for failing to report sexual offenses and other crimes. Penn State University was fined $2.4 million its handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case. And Eastern Michigan University in 2008 paid a $350,000 Clery Act fine for failing to inform the campus about a student murdered in her dorm and other violations.
The Clery Center provides detailed guidance about compliance as well as for campus safety training and support. Several other resources are available to help colleges with campus safety, including the Ed Department's Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting and the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative's toolkit.