Victims of convicted sexual predator Larry Nassar filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Michigan State University officials of taking “secret votes” to conceal records about the disgraced sports doctor.
The civil complaint filed in Ingham County Circuit Court claims the East Lansing school violated open meeting laws, refusing to give thousands of documents to state investigators that could show who knew what and when about the sex criminal now behind bars for life.
The plaintiffs said MSU’s “Board of Trustees had illegal secret votes and made decisions in private to hide their position on whether or not to release the ‘Nassar documents.'”
“For years now since 2018, survivors, advocates, the general public, the MSU community and even a significant number of legislators have been demanding full transparency and the release of the ‘Nassar documents,'” according to the lawsuit.
“The public has a right to know about who at MSU may have turned a blind eye to Nassar’s activities, when his actions were reported and to whom, but the MSU Trustees as a body continued to hide information and evidence.”
The plaintiffs say Michigan State is holding on to emails and communications by claiming attorney-client privilege.
State investigators have previously said the school is refusing to turn over more than 6,000 documents that could be pertinent to the Nassar scandal.
Lead plaintiff Valerie von Frank, whose daughter was sexually abused by Nassar, told NBC News on Friday that holding the school responsible is at least as important as sending Nassar to prison for the rest of his life.
“There is the offense and then there’s the covering up and not addressing the issue, not stopping the perpetrators,” said von Frank, founder of Parents of Sister Survivors Engage (POSSE), which advocates on behalf of sexual assault survivors.
“I’ve always thought this is a sick individual, but I am angry at the people who allowed it to continue to happen to more and more and more survivors.”
A Michigan State representative declined comment on Friday, citing school policy against openly discussing active litigation.
Nassar is serving a de facto life sentence for a variety of sex crimes, including 40 to 175 years for molesting some of the nation’s top gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.
The school in 2018 reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who were sexually assaulted by Nassar.
“I see friends and family wearing Michigan State sweatshirts or t-shirts. I just can’t help but to feel pain because Michigan State has never done the right thing,” plaintiff and Nassar survivor Elizabeth Maurer told reporters in East Lansing on Thursday.
“These documents have been siting there, waiting to be read by the public and by survivors. And they keep deceiving us and not allowing us to see them after promising we could, and I’m just sick and tried of it,” Maurer said. “It’s really, really hard to heal when you know there are still answers to a lot of your questions out there.”