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Jurors deliberate in trial of ex-dean who oversaw Nassar

LANSING, Mich. — Jurors began deliberating Tuesday after closing arguments in the trial of a former medical school dean who had oversight of now-imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University.

William Strampel is accused of abusing his public office to sexually proposition and make explicit comments to female students, of inappropriately touching two on the buttocks, and of failing to ensure that Nassar followed patient restrictions following a sexual misconduct complaint. If convicted of the most serious charge, a felony, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

Strampel, 71, led the College of Osteopathic Medicine for about 15 years before being forced out.

He was the first person charged after Michigan’s attorney general launched an investigation 1½ years ago into how Michigan State handled complaints against Nassar, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to molesting patients and possessing child pornography. Ex-university President Lou Anna Simon and former women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages face charges of lying to investigators.

“Should these women have to listen to this sexually inappropriate language and this sexual innuendo? They all felt threatened by it,” assistant attorney general Danielle Hagaman-Clark said in her closing statement. “Why? Why should they have to listen to that? They’re simply trying to become doctors.”

She also said Strampel “did not a single thing” to enforce examining-room restrictions imposed on Nassar in 2014 after a patient accused the doctor of sexual contact.

Strampel’s defense attorney John Dakmak countered that the school’s investigation cleared Nassar, and there is no evidence that Strampel willfully neglected any duty related to Nassar. He said many other people and entities at Michigan State also had a role — including the Office of Institutional Equity, the general counsel’s office, the provost’s office, the Health Team, the radiology chairman and people who ran sports medicine.

Dakmak said nothing ever happened between Strampel and students who met with him after struggling on exams, and the students ultimately moved forward in school.

“All we’re left with is locker room talk, is bawdy talk, is ribald talk, is maybe offensive to some people, maybe not to others, not politically correct talk,” he said. He added later: “You will never see inappropriate language result in a criminal conviction in this state because this is the United States. You need more. In this case, you need corruption. You need an intent. And after everything we’ve heard, it’s just not there.”

Nassar was fired in 2016 after another victim went public and brought Title IX and police complaints. He was sentenced to effectively spend the rest of his life in prison in 2018 after hundreds of women and girls gave powerful statements against him in two courtrooms.

Nassar also worked at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

During Strampel’s trial, multiple former medical students testified about sexual comments he made during one-on-one meetings. They accused him of staring at their breasts. Women who worked as model patients during exams also testified about unprofessional and sexual comments.

Strampel did not testify.

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