The man who was former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s boss at Michigan State University for several years, supervising him during the years he was sexually molesting dozens of athletes who came to him for treatment, has himself been arrested, jail records show.
William Strampel, 70, who was the longtime dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State, and was Nassar’s boss for more than 10 years, is accused of crimes related to his own behavior, along with his handling of Nassar’s conduct. He was charged with felony misconduct in office and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, which are both felonies and two additional misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty by a public official, charging documents show.
The university is in the process of firing Strampel. He was taken into custody Monday, and is being held at the Ingham County Jail, records show. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.
Nassar, 54, was the doctor for USA Gymnastics for many years, working with several Olympic teams. He was also a faculty member at Michigan State. He was convicted of sexual assault and possession of child pornography and is serving what is expected to be a life sentence in prison.
Here’s what you need to know about William Strampel:
1. Strampel Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct Involving Multiple Michigan State Medical Students & Police Say He Had Pornography, as Well as a Video of Nassar ‘Performing Treatment,’ on His Work Computer
Michigan State Police and investigators from the state Attorney General’s office searched William Strampel’s home in DeWitt on Monday and he was taken into custody, WLIX-TV reports.
William Forsyth, a former state prosecutor who is leading the investigation for the Attorney General’s office, has obtained records, emails and text messages from several current and former Michigan State officials as part of his examination of how the university handled accusations made against Nassar, the Lansing State Journal reports. Nassar began working at Michigan State in 1997 and Strampel became his boss in 2002.
You can read the criminal complaint and affidavit in the Strampel case below:
Strampel is accused of criminal sexual conduct for incidents that occurred unrelated to Nassar, the Detroit Free Press reports. According to court documents, in 2010, Strampel approached a woman from behind at the college’s annual ball and grabbed her right buttocks. The woman told investigators she did not report it because she “did not want to be thrown out of medical school.”
Investigators also said Strampel solicited nude photos from at least one student. On his work computer, they found pornography, including about 50 photos of “bare vaginas, nude and semi-nude women, sex toys, and pornography,” according to court documents. The photos included “what appear to be ‘selfies’ of female MSU students, as evidenced by the MSU clothing and piercings featured in multiple photos,” the affidavit states. Forensic investigation revealed that someone tried to delete the photos, police said.
According to the court documents, Strampel met with a 26-year-old female student in June 2017 to discuss her appealing a test score she received on an exam that would be necessary to complete medical school. Strampel told the woman she would not perform well enough to continue in medical school and denied her appeal.
“Strampel then spoke about his working with 20-to-30-year-olds and said that some of his friends had sexual relations with young women that age,” the affidavit states. “According to (the victim) … Strampel then suggested that 26-year-old women can ‘put-out’ for 20 minutes with an old man, after which he would fall asleep, and in return the women could get the benefit of a free vacation.”
The victim told investigators she was intimidated by the sexual nature of the conversation and that Strampel had started referring specifically to a 26-year-old woman. The woman also told investigators Strampel commented without prompting on the “difficulty of sending nude photos,” according to court documents.
“He told (the victim) that if he ever caught her taking nude photographs, she would be in trouble. (The victim) interpreted these statements as a request to send him nude photographs in exchange for special consideration with respect to her education at the College,” according to court documents.
During a search of Strampel’s computer, police also found a video of “Dr. Larry Nassar performing ‘treatment’ on a young female patient,” according to the affidavit.
2. He Told Students He Didn’t Believe Nassar Sexually Molested Any of the Women, Saying ‘Patients Lie to Get Doctors in Trouble,’ the WSJ Reports
Strampel told a group of Michigan State students in 2016 that he did not believe the women who were accusing Nassar of sexual assault, saying that “patients lie to get doctors in trouble,” the Wall Street Journal reported last week. The comments were made in October 2016, before Nassar was arrested, but after the Indianapolis Star report was published and two weeks after Nassar was fired by MSU. Strampel told the students that he didn’t want to fire Nassar, but had been forced to, the newspaper reports.
“This just goes to show that none of you learned the most basic lesson in medicine, medicine 101, that you should have learned in your first week: don’t trust your patients,” Strampel said during the meeting, according to the WSJ. “Patients lie to get doctors in trouble. And we’re seeing that right now in the news with this Nassar stuff. I don’t think any of these women were actually assaulted by Larry, but Larry didn’t learn that lesson and didn’t have a chaperone in the room, so now they see an opening and they can take advantage of him.”
He added, “As soon as I found out I had to fire his ass. I didn’t want to, but what am I supposed to do?”
Strampel has not commented about the WSJ report. He is named in civil suits brought by more than 100 of Nassar’s victims, who claim he was negligent in how he responded to complaints about Nassar.
Strampel told police who were investigating Nassar that he and the disgraced doctor agreed to put in place protocols in 2014 after a Title IX investigation cleared Nassar of sexual assault, according to the State Journal. Strampel told investigators the protocols didn’t include a mechanism to ensure Nassar’s compliance and Strampel said he didn’t follow up with him because the Title IX investigation cleared Nassar. The investigation began after a recent MSU graduate accused Nassar of sexually assaulting her during an examination.
The protocols required a third-party person to be present if Nassar was providing treatment that was “anything close to a sensitive area.” The protocols also said any skin-to-skin contact should be minimal and needed to be explained in detail.
“Despite his representation of his (and the College) intended response to the allegations against Nassar, Strampel did not actually enforce or monitor the protocols, nor did he alert other employees in the sports medicine clinic about the existence of the protocols, let alone order that they be followed with respect to Nassar,” the affidavit charging Strampel with neglect in office said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
USA Gymnastics cut ties with Nassar in 2015 and in September 2016 it was revealed by the Indianapolis Star that Nassar, who also worked with youth and high school athletes in his hometown of Holt, Michigan, had been accused of sexual abuse two former Olympic gymnasts. He was fired by Michigan State that same month. In November 2016, Nassar was arrested and in the following months, dozens of other victims came forward. Police also found child pornography in Nassar’s home.
Rachael Denhollander, one of the first victims to speak out publicly against Nassar, issued a statement Monday night after Strampel’s arrest.
“I am so grateful to see justice coming for some of the people who helped create this culture of abuse at MSU. At the same time, I am horrified and disgusted that this arrest comes directly after MSU once again filed to dismiss all claims of liability for Larry’s ability to abuse women and children for decades,” Denhollander said. “Strampel should never have been left in a position of power and MSU should have acknowledged this failure immediately. Instead, they chose to attack us and still have refused to take responsibility for any of the dynamics that lead to so many children being horrifically abused.”
John Manly, an attorney representing more than 100 of Nassar’s victims who are suing Michigan State, told the State Journal, “Our clients are encouraged by the Attorney General’s action today. It demonstrates that he is serious about investigating the systemic misconduct at MSU that led to the largest child sex abuse scandal in history and holding the responsible parties accountable.”
3. Strampel Was the Target of Complaints About His Treatment of Women & Unprofessional Behavior, Including Volunteering to Be a Test Subject for In-Class Rectal & Prostate Exams
Strampel’s own behavior has also been under scrutiny by Michigan State officials, according to the WallS Street Journal report. The newspaper reviewed documents and talked to current and former students and faculty and staff about Strampel.
According to the WSJ, Strampel faced complaints “about his own alleged disregard for women, inappropriate and unprofessional behavior and a lack of appropriate oversight.”
But the reviews also praised Strampel for his success in raising the college’s profile and increasing the student body. Current and former colleagues told the newspaper that those successes possibly helped overshadow his issues.
In one incident, in Spring 2005, Strampel, who was teaching an introductory course on physical examinations, volunteered himself as a model patient for students to practice prostate and rectal exams on after a male model hired by the school did not show up to the class, the Journal reports.
Strampel directed his offer at one student and that student later left the room alone with Strampel and conducted the rectal exam, according to the newspaper. Details about the incident were included in a letter written by several students and sent to a faculty member. The students said in the letter that the student who conducted the exam was concerned about failing the course if he declined, the newspaper reports.
The professor characterized the incident as assault and encouraged the students to share the note with law enforcement and media. Osteopaths contacted by the Journal told the newspaper that it would be inappropriate for a professor to ask students to perform exams on them.
4. Strampel, Who Stepped Down in December, Became the Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2002 After Serving in the Army Medical Corps
Strampel stepped down from his position as dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine in December for medial reasons. In February, interim Michigan State President John Engler began the process of firing Strampel. He had been the college’s dean since 2002.
“William Strampel did not act with the level of professionalism we expect from individuals who hold senior leadership positions, particularly in a position that involves student and patient safety,” Interim University President Engler said in a statement in February. “Further, allegations have arisen that question whether his personal conduct over a long period of time met MSU’s standards. We are sending an unmistakable message today that we will remove employees who do not treat students, faculty, staff, or anyone else in our community in an appropriate manner.”
Strampel, a professor of internal medicine, began his career at Michigan State in 1999 when he was hired as a senior associate dean, according to the university’s website. He also worked as the lead medical director of the MSU HealthTeam.
Strampel served in the Army Medical Corps for 26 years before he worked at Michigan State. In his last military job, he was the special assistant to the U.S. Surgeon General for operations and readiness and served as the chief medical officer for Tricare Management Activity, which put him in charge of the managed care budge of more than $8 billion, according to the university. He also served as director of quality management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Strampel was commander of the Brooke Army Medical Center and Great Plains Regional Medical Command from 1996 to 1996 and the director of medical education at Brooke from 1994 to 1996.
From 1991 to 1994, he was the chief of the Quality Assurance Division in the Department of the Army’s Office of the Surgeon General. Prior to 1991 he worked at military facilities in Colorado, Kansas and Korea.
5. He Is a Michigan Native, Hope College & Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine Grad & Received a Lifetime Achievement Award From the American Osteopathic Foundation in 2016
Strampel is a native of Saugatuck, Michigan, and a graduate of Saugatuck High School, according to The Commercial Record.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Hope College in 1970 and then graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1976, according to the Michigan State website.
Strampel received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Osteopathic Foundation in 2016. He has been married to his wife, Lee, for more than 50 years and has three daughters.