Former Michigan State University dean charged with sex crime, officials say

DETROIT, March 27 (Reuters) - A former Michigan State University dean, who supervised the doctor at the center of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, was himself charged on Tuesday with criminal sexual conduct involving medical school students.

A medical student at the school had accused William Strampel, the 70-year-old former dean of its College of Osteopathic Medicine, of forcible sexual contact, prosecutors said in papers filed in state district court in East Lansing. Prosecutors said other students also accused Strampel of various incidents of sexual misconduct.

Strampel was dean from 2002 until the end of 2017 when he left for medical reasons. He supervised ex-USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, who has been sentenced to prison for sexually abusing female gymnasts.

The latest charges extend beyond that scandal to the former dean's own dealings with female medical students. They move the case beyond Nassar, sweeping the university up in the "MeToo" movement that has leveled harassment and abuse allegations against dozens of powerful men in the media, business and politics.

The four criminal counts against Strampel include fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The accusations also include failing to properly oversee Nassar, whose scandal has reverberated far beyond Michigan, sparking probes into why the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and the university failed for years to investigate complaints.

A lawyer for Strampel did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Michigan State representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A lawyer for Strampel did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Michigan State representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Four female medical students told investigators Strampel made sexually suggestive comments during meetings, including what some perceived as academic privileges in exchange for sex. Two women accused him of grabbing their buttocks without consent.

According to court papers, one witness told investigators Strampel asked her, "What do I have to do to teach you to be submissive and subordinate to men?"

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Another witness, a 26-year-old female student, described meeting with Strampel in June 2017 to appeal a test score and feeling intimidated after being told "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," according to court documents.

A third female witness said Strampel suggested she become a centerfold model and related to her how another female student had become a stripper to pay for school, court documents said.

When Strampel agreed to let the student retake a test, he said she must agree to do anything for him, which she interpreted as a request for sex, court documents said.

Strampel is also accused of threatening and manipulating students to receive pornographic images of women who appear to be students, court documents said. They said investigators seized his computer in February and found about 50 photos of nude women, sex toys and pornography, including selfies of female students, pornographic videos and a video of Nassar performing "treatment" on a young female patient.

If convicted, Strampel faces five years and a possible fine of $10,000 for a misconduct charge, two years and a possible fine of $500 for the fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge and one year and a possible fine of $1,000 for each of the two willful neglect of duty charges, according to court documents.

The case of Nassar, 54, led to the resignation of the entire board of USA Gymnastics and rocked the university, where he was a faculty member and physician at an on-campus clinic. Michigan State's handling of the scandal has been criticized. Athletes had complained about Nassar since the 1990s, but the university did not open an investigation until 2014.

Michigan State fired Nassar in September 2016. In February, the school moved to fire Strampel, saying he failed to enforce guidelines created for Nassar after complaints of sexual misconduct. (Reporting by Ben Klayman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Paul Simao and David Gregorio)