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Investigators turn to Michigan State after Nassar’s sentence

Serial sexual abuser and former U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced this week to up to 175 years in prison. Now, state and federal officials are investigating who at Michigan State University, where Nassar practiced and worked as a professor, might have enabled his assaults. Sports Illustrated Legal Analyst Michael McCann joins Hari Sreenivasan for more on the case.

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    Serial child sexual abusers and former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar is serving a prison sentence that will stretch past the end of his life. But the legal fallout from his years of abuse is far from over. Some of his victims are still waiting for their day in court and Castro could face further prosecution.

    But for those asking how this could have happened the focus is turning to USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. Nassar practiced and served as a professor for some insight as to what comes next on the legal front.

    I'm joined from Manchester New Hampshire by Michael McCann associate dean at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a writer for Sports Illustrated. Thanks for joining us so. We've had the news stories and the headlines about the entire board of USA Gymnastics resigning people at Michigan State stepping down. But I feel like this is not over yet. At least when it comes to the prosecutions that are possible.


    That's exactly right for one. There are ongoing civil lawsuits both in federal and state court against both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State. But in addition as more evidence surfaces as more testimony is taken particularly when it involves current and former employees of both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State some of them will start talking some of them will start pointing the finger.


    But what's the liability that Michigan State has because one of the stories that we see overnight is that people had approached the head of the CWA as far back as 2010 letting them know that there was a problem on Michigan State's campus not maybe specifically about what Larry Nassar was doing but that there was sexual violence being perpetrated by some of the players and that this was something that Michigan State needed to handle? And the NCAA need to handle?


    Clearly there was enough there that the NCAA ought to have looked more closely into what was going on. This now puts the NCAA in a position where it maybe can't be impartial. So Michigan State can now argue you know how can the NCAA investigate us when itself is implicated in this controversy. I think it would behoove frankly Michigan State USA gymnastics and the NCAA to turn to some independent entity that can try to investigate without these kinds of links.


    One of the things that we became more aware of after Harvey Weinstein scandal was the business of nondisclosure agreements as part of a settlement that here's the money or here's a settlement. And in exchange you won't say something for it and we kind of saw that again in the case of one of the victims of Larry Nassar. What does that do in this context to say, does it accelerate our interest in trying to do away with these or maybe even having a statute of limitations disappear?


    It's a hard issue because there's a freedom of contract argument which says you can't interfere with somebody right to contract away information that it's actually part of contract law. But we know that in New York for instance some legislatures are arguing that NDAA shouldn't be enforceable when they involve information related to sexual crimes. As we've seen with Harvey Weinstein as we've seen with other stories these nondisclosure agreements really present major problems in terms of social policy and maybe we shouldn't let people contract away that kind of information.


    Michael McCann thanks so much for joining us. Thank you.

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