The president of Michigan State University faced a call for her resignation Saturday over the school’s handling of a sexual assault scandal involving former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
School trustee Mitch Lyons issued a statement Saturday breaking ranks with the MSU board, which said a day earlier that it supported President Lou Anna Simon.
Lyons told the Detroit Free Press he does not agree with the board’s statement of support for Simon, and called on her resignation “to let the healing process begin.”
“As I expressed repeatedly to fellow board members during our discussion Friday, I don’t believe President Simon can survive the public outcry that has been generated by this tragedy and even less so after hearing the testimony of these brave survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse,” he said.
More than 80 girls and women, including some Olympians, gave statements at last week’s sentencing for Nassar, who worked at MSU and as a team doctor for USA Gymnastics.
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty in November to multiple counts of sexual assault.
Since the allegations became public, more than 140 girls and women — including Olympic gold medalists McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles — have accused Nassar of abuse. Some assaults even took place at his university office.
At least 14 MSU officials were notified of the allegations against Nassar in the two decades before his shocking arrest, according to the Detroit News’ investigation. However, the school repeatedly missed opportunities to take action, the report said.
Simon was among those notified, the newspaper reported.
“I was informed that a sports medicine doctor was under investigation,” Simon told the newspaper last week after appearing in court for a Nassar sentencing hearing. “I told people to play it straight up, and I did not receive a copy of the report. That’s the truth.”
“I was informed that a sports medicine doctor was under investigation. I told people to play it straight up, and I did not receive a copy of the report. That’s the truth.”
Even though the board of trustees is standing behind Simon, its members share the “outrage of the survivors,” according to a statement from Chairman Brian Breslin.
“The stories in the court this week are heartbreaking,” Breslin said.
Breslin also disclosed last week that he won’t seek re-election to the board of trustees, the Detroit News reported.
The trustees have asked Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office to investigate the university’s handling of the scandal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.