A Michigan judge ruled Monday that there is enough evidence to try an ex-university president accused of lying to police about serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar.
Judge Julie Reincke said that former Michigan State University president Lou Ann Simon appeared to have “knowingly and willfully” deceived two state police investigators in an interview last year about a 2014 Title XI investigation into Nassar, then a gymnastics doctor at the school.
Simon was charged with four crimes — including two felonies — of making false or misleading statements to authorities. She faces a maximum of four years in prison.
Simon told police that she only knew a “a sports medicine doc” was “subject to a review” and denied knowing anything about the substance of the investigation, court documents say.
But the judge said the school’s Title XI coordinator, Paulette Granberry-Russel, had told Simon about the sexual misconduct complaint that triggered the investigation in the spring of 2014.
“The allegations against Nassar aroused serious, very significant concern,” Reincke said, adding that it was “not credible” that Simon would have forgotten about them.
Nassar was ultimately cleared in the investigation. He was first publicly accused of misconduct in an Indianapolis Star report.
After a preliminary hearing earlier this year, Simon’s lawyer, Lee Silver, told the Detroit News that “there wasn’t a shred of evidence” against her and that he believed the charges were a “witch hunt.”
On Monday, Silver said he planned to “vigorously defend Dr. Simon” and appeal the judge’s ruling.
“We remain confident that we will ultimately prevail and that Lou Anna Simon will be fully acquitted of these charges,” he said.
Simon is one of several officials accused of mishandling the allegations against Nassar. A former university gymnastics coach was also charged with lying to authorities, while the ex-dean of an MSU medical school allegedly failed to enforce examining room restrictions after the Title XI investigation began.
Nassar pleaded guilty last year to sexually assaulting nine victims and to possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to the equivalent of a life term in prison.
More than 265 girls and women accused Nassar of molesting them over two decades under the guise of medical treatment.