Special agents from the Michigan Attorney General's Office and Michigan State Police arrived late Friday afternoon at Michigan State University, where they removed records and what appeared to be a flash drive from the Hannah Administration Building and Fee Hall.
The visit, witnessed by reporters from several Lansing news organizations, drew criticism from incoming interim MSU President John Engler, whose long-time spokesman referred to it as "a political stunt rather than an actual law enforcement action."
Attorney General Bill Schuette is investigating the handling of the Larry Nassar case and other sexual assaults at MSU. On Jan. 27, he appointed William Forsyth, a retired Kent County prosecutor, to lead the effort.
AG spokeswoman Andrea Bitely issued a brief statement after the agents departed from MSU, noting that on Jan. 27 Schuette had requested "immediate production" of records and electronic devices used by William Strampel, former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, who had been Nassar's boss.
“This has not occurred," Bitely wrote. "We are continuing to investigate with our partners at the Michigan State Police and will not be providing further comment.”
Strampel stepped down from the dean's post to a professorship citing medical reasons. Fee Hall holds offices of the osteopathic medical school.
John Truscott, speaking on behalf Engler, said late Friday that attorneys from the Miller Canfield law firm, representing MSU, had been speaking with AG staffers, including Chief Deputy Attorney General Laura Moody, "for a week to work on the timing of the turnover of everything that was requested."
Truscott said the conversations had been cordial and a meeting had been set up to discuss details of "how to most effectively meet the request" such as key words to search for in emails. Truscott said that meeting was cancelled late Wednesday or early Thursday.
"Then they showed up at the offices today and made a big scene of it. It's unfortunate and lets us know how political this investigation is going to be," Truscott said.
In response to Truscott, Bitely emailed an additional comment to the State Journal:
"There is no schedule for turning things over. It’s unfortunate that some have chosen to politicize this investigation. This is not a crisis of our making, but we will get to the bottom of it."
Nassar, a once renowned sports medicine doctor who was on faculty at the College of Osteopathic Medicine, has pleaded guilty to 10 charges of sexual assault in Ingham and Eaton counties. More than 250 women and girls have come forward to say they were abused by him during medical appointments or while participating in gymnastics training or events. He served as doctor to several U.S. Olympic women's gymnastic teams and also saw many gymnasts at Twistars gym in Dimondale.
Strampel received special notice in the letter Schuette sent to the university on Jan. 27 requesting files and records related to former President Lou Anna Simon, former Athletic Director Mark Hollis, the Board of Trustees and other officials.
The letter requested Strampel's work computer, work cell phone and any work calendars and said his electronic devices would be "forensically imaged." The AG's Office had asked that Strampel's materials be provided "immediately" but gave MSU a Feb. 9 deadline for the rest of its requests.
On Friday, five officials with the AG's office and one Michigan State Police officer were seen in the Hannah building.
The investigators made several stops, including the Office of the Provost. During a stop at the second-floor office of Kristine Moore, assistant general counsel at the university, officials appeared to receive a flash drive from a university official.
Two women who answered the door at Moore's office after the special agents left on Friday refused to answer questions.
Bill Beekman, secretary to the Board of Trustees who is the acting president of the university until former Michigan governor Engler begins his interim presidency on Monday, said “I have no idea,” when asked what officers were there to obtain.
Bitely declined to comment on whether special agents had visited Strampel's home looking for electronic devices or records.
A woman who answered the door there on Friday also declined to comment.
Moore, then assigned to the university's Title IX staff, handled a 2014 investigation into a sexual assault report against Nassar.
The Title IX review cleared Nassar within three months, and Nassar continued seeing patients. A criminal investigation by MSU Police did not end until prosecutors declined to charge him 16 months later.
The 2014 decision is viewed by many Nassar victims as a pivotal moment when MSU could have stopped Nassar and did not. The investigation is controversial because Moore used a panel of four people with ties to Nassar to consider whether his actions were medically appropriate. Three of those experts were among the people from whom Schuette requested records and correspondence.
The LSJ has reported that the 2014 Title IX report had two versions, one for the victim and an internal version for MSU that went to Nassar, Strampel and the Office of General Counsel. Both versions concluded that Nassar did not violate university policies, but the internal version said that Nassar was a liability risk and that his conduct exposed patients to unnecessary trauma and could possibly create a perception of sexual misconduct.
Those conclusions were withheld from Amanda Thomashow, the MSU graduate who had sought treatment at MSU Sports Medicine in Meridian Township and said Nassar touched her inappropriately before she pushed his hands away and ended the appointment. She is now among more than 140 women suing the university and USA Gymnastics in federal court.
An Indianapolis Star investigation of USA Gymnastics, begun in 2016, uncovered widespread sexual abuse of athletes by coaches and others and failures to alert authorities. The IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network, revealed the first allegations of abuse by Nassar.
Nassar is expected to be sentenced in Eaton County Monday on three sexual assault charges.
Nassar was sentenced to 60 years on federal child pornography charges and a 40 to 175 years on sexual assault charges he pleaded guilty to in Ingham County.
Eric Lacy and Elaine Kulhanek contributed to this report. Contact Contact Justin A. Hinkley at (517) 377-1195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley. Sign up for his email newsletter, SoM Weekly, at on.lsj.com/somsignup. RJ Wolcott at (517) 377-1026 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @wolcottr.