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Education Department opens investigation into MSU over Nassar scandal

Michigan State "no confidence" vote
Michigan State "no confidence" vote 05:08

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department has opened an investigation into how Michigan State University (MSU) handled allegations of sexual assault against Larry Nassar, a former campus sports doctor sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting young patients and crimes related to child pornography.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said investigators will look at "systemic issues" with regard how to the school deals with such complaints. In a statement, she said Nassar's actions "are unimaginable."

"The bravery shown by the survivors has been remarkable," she said of the survivors. "My heart goes out to them as they have had to relive their horrific experiences and as they begin the long road to healing."

DeVos, who is from western Michigan, said she appreciates that the university's acting president, John Engler, has ordered the school to cooperate fully with the investigation.

The Education Department was already reviewing separate complaints about the school's compliance with Title IX, the law that requires schools to prevent and respond to reports of sexual violence, and compliance with requirements about providing campus crime and security information.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office also is investigating MSU's handling of the Nassar case.

Later Thursday, some of Nassar's victims will join Michigan lawmakers in announcing new bills in the wake of the scandal. One measure would add college employees and youth sports coaches, trainers and volunteers to Michigan's list of people who must report suspected abuse or neglect to child protective services.

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Other proposals would eliminate certain time limits for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue, lift the statute of limitations for prosecutors to file charges in certain cases of criminal sexual misconduct, and eliminate governmental immunity for people and entities that allow sexual assaults to occur.

Speaking to CBS News in January, gymnast Larissa Boyce said she was 16 when she complained to MSU coach Kathie Klages that she suspected Nassar was abusing her in 1997.

"Kathie came back in the room with just me at this point, and said, 'Well, I can file something but there's going to be very serious consequences for both you and Dr. Nassar,'' Boyce said. "And I said, 'Well, I don't want to get anybody in trouble.' I just felt humiliated. I felt silenced. I felt embarrassed."

Klages was suspended and resigned from MSU last February. Her lawyers declined to respond to CBS News, citing ongoing litigation.

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