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Michigan State University via Flickr. Photo courtesy of Ken Lund

Attorney general suspends Michigan State sex abuse investigation

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has suspended a nearly two-year-long investigation into Michigan State University’s handling of complaints against now-imprisoned serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The probe, which began under Nessel’s predecessor, has resulted in charges against three former school officials. One was convicted. Two others, including former president Lou Anna Simon, were ordered to trial. Their cases will continue to be prosecuted.

It is unclear if or when the investigation will resume. Investigators want the university to waive attorney-client privilege on more than 6,000 documents, and they want to interview former interim president John Engler, who took over following Simon’s resignation, Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said.

The school’s governing board infuriated Nassar victims this year after dropping a promised independent review of sex assaults committed by Nassar, a former campus sports physician who also worked for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

The trustees deadlocked over releasing the documents. Some said releasing privileged information would jeopardize the school’s lawsuit against insurers to help cover a $500 million payout to hundreds of victims and related legal costs.

Earlier this year, Engler’s lawyer and an attorney in Nessel’s office were at odds over his availability to speak with investigators. The attorney general’s office had wanted to talk to Engler about campus changes after the sexual-assault scandal involving Nassar. Engler was interim president for about a year until resigning amid fallout over remarks he made about some victims.

Rossman-McKinney said that while the MSU probe has been paused, an investigation continues into unspecified complaints against former U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team coach John Geddert. He owned and operated Twistars, a Lansing-area gym where Nassar offered treatments.

During Nassar’s 2018 sentencings, some victims complained that Geddert was physically abusive and indifferent to injuries, and forced them to see Nassar. He has insisted that he had “zero knowledge” of Nassar’s crimes.