August 12, 2019
HHS OCR Secures Agreement with MSU to Resolve Investigation into Sexual Abuse by Larry Nassar
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), has entered into a voluntary resolution agreement with Michigan State University; the MSU HealthTeam (the multi-specialty medical practice of MSU, with approximately 260 physicians, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants in more than 40 clinics); and MSU Health Care, Inc., a separate non-profit corporation (collectively, the MSU Entities), resolving a civil rights investigation related to Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of gymnasts and others while employed by MSU.
HHS OCR initiated the Title IX and Section 1557 compliance review of the MSU Entities after federal and state criminal investigations of Nassar, an osteopathic physician and associate professor at MSU, found that he had sexually abused hundreds of women and girls under his care over decades. Nassar later pleaded guilty to felony criminal sexual conduct. Additionally, William Strampel, the former dean of MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, has been convicted of felony misconduct, which stems from a charge that he used his public office to sexually harass students. Strampel also was convicted of willfully neglecting to monitor Nassar after an earlier investigation. OCR’s remedy is appropriate and effective in light of their gross misconduct.
The agreement resolves HHS OCR’s compliance review of the MSU Entities, pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally assisted education programs or activities, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, age and disability in certain health programs or activities.
The MSU Entities have agreed to:
- revise their non-discrimination notices and sexual misconduct policies to clarify Title IX’s and Section 1557’s prohibitions on sex discrimination;
- improve their processes for investigating and resolving Title IX and Section 1557 complaints (including for MSU-students, non-MSU-student patients, faculty and staff);
- designate a responsible official to coordinate the acceptance, investigation and resolution of Title IX and Section 1557 complaints;
- institute a new chaperone policy requiring authorized members of the health care team to be present at sensitive medical examinations and allowing patients to request chaperones according to sex;
- when conducting sensitive examinations, provide the patient with an appropriate gown, privacy for undressing and dressing, and sensitive draping to maximize physical privacy; and
- conduct all-staff training and provide bi-annual reports to HHS OCR during the three year term of the agreement.
“Perpetrating and tolerating sexual abuse of patients is not only a heinous breach of trust, it’s against federal law,” said Roger Severino, Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “While Nassar and the dean who oversaw him have been rightly convicted of crimes, the institutional reforms that MSU has agreed to undertake will help ensure that no patient is ever victimized like this again.”
A copy of the voluntary resolution agreement can be found at:
For additional information on OCR’s work on sexual discrimination issues, visit: https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/sex-discrimination/index.html.
To learn more about non-discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, age and disability; conscience and religious freedom; and health information privacy laws, and to find information on filing a complaint, visit us at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr.
Follow OCR on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HHSOCR.