March 5, 2020
LANSING – In response to a call for her to take action, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said today that any investigation into the alleged sexual assaults committed by the late Dr. Robert Anderson would require full cooperation by the accused’s former employer, the University of Michigan, and an appropriation by the Michigan Legislature to cover costs of the investigation.
Nessel hosted a roundtable with media this afternoon at her office in Lansing after a news conference was held earlier today in Ann Arbor by attorneys, victims’ advocates and survivors of reported sexual assault by Anderson, a former U of M doctor, as well as Larry Nassar, a former doctor at Michigan State University.
“I commend those who have come forward to speak out about Dr. Anderson’s abuses,” Nessel said at the roundtable. “Your courage inspires us all and shines a spotlight on the work we have left to do to ensure that sexual assault and abuse is taken as seriously in the halls of academia as it is in the halls of justice.”
Anderson passed away in 2008 and statute of limitations on his crimes have all likely run out.
Nessel said there cannot be a complete and thorough investigation unless and until the University of Michigan commits to complete transparency and full cooperation. For that to happen, the university would need to make a binding commitment to waive all privileges, including the attorney-client privilege, and fully cooperate in whatever law enforcement efforts there may be.
If the university were to waive privilege and fully cooperate, Nessel said the Attorney General’s office would still need an appropriation from the Legislature to fund investigatory efforts.
“When MSU called on this office to investigate the Nassar scandal, the Legislature responded by appropriating $1 million to fund our Department's investigatory efforts,” Nessel said. “In just over a year, our Department – in partnership with the Michigan State Police – interviewed nearly 400 witnesses and filed charges against three MSU officials – all while coming-in under budget.”
However, Nessel said MSU’s failure to waive the attorney-client privilege prevented her office from completing its investigation and has denied the survivors any sense of closure, while also wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Those actions cannot be repeated.
“The young men and women at our colleges and universities are entitled to a safe learning environment,” Nessel said. “We achieve that when we start holding those in charge of their safety accountable. Like MSU, history will judge U of M by its actions in the wake of this scandal. I hope it makes different – and better – choices.”