Former Michigan State president charged with lying to police in Nassar investigation

Simon resigned as MSU president in January

By EMANUELLA GRINBERG AND JANE DIGIACOMO, CNN
Scott Olson/Getty Images

(CNN) - The former president of Michigan State University has been charged with lying to police in the investigation of former USA Gymnastics and university doctor Larry Nassar.

Lou Anna Simon faces four counts of lying to a peace officer, according to a felony warrant from the Michigan Attorney General's office. The warrant alleges that Simon knowingly and willfully made statements about the Nassar investigation that she knew were false or misleading.

Simon will be arraigned November 26 in Eaton County, the attorney general's office said. Simon resigned in January after 13 years as president amid criticism of her handling of the Nassar scandal. She has been on the university's payroll since, per the conditions of her contract.

Simon's lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, called the charges "political and untrue."

"The charges are completely false and they know it," Morganroth said, referring to law enforcement.

The charges stem from statements Simon allegedly made about former student Amanda Thomashow's accusations toward Nassar.

Thomashow was the first woman to file an official Title IX complaint against Nassar in 2014. She accused him of touching her inappropriately despite her repeated attempts to make him stop, in violation of the school's sexual harassment policy. A Michigan State Title IX investigation concluded that Nassar's methods were medically appropriate and sided with him.

The warrant claims that Simon said she was not aware of the nature of complaint that generated MSU's Title IX investigation of Thomashow's allegations.

The warrant alleges that Simon said she was "unaware" that in 2014 a sports medicine doctor was "subject to a review" when, prosecutors allege, she in fact knew that Nassar was the subject of the 2014 Title IX investigation of Thomashow's complaint.

Thomashow welcomed news of the charges.

"I've been waiting for this day for so long, but I never thought it would actually come."

Simon is charged with two felonies, each carrying a maximum sentence of four years, and two misdemeanors, each with a sentence of up to two years.

After resigning, Simon went on 12 months of research leave at her full salary of $750,000, per her contract, MSU confirmed. After the research leave, she was scheduled to return to faculty.

Now, "she is taking an immediate leave of absence, without pay, to focus on her legal situation," MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said.

Attorney Lee Silver, who is representing her with Morganroth, said the charges "have no merit whatsoever." Her defense team is confident that she will be exonerated, he said.

"I have not seen a shred of evidence to support these charges, which I believe are completely baseless."

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