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Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon to resign

MSU president resigns

Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon will resign in the wake of the Larry Nassar sentencing and amid outcry over the school's handling of allegations against him, according to the school's website which posted her resignation letter Wednesday night addressed to the board of trustees at MSU. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that Simon will resign Thursday.

The news comes on the heels of Wednesday's sentencing for Nassar, who was employed at MSU as a medical doctor. He will be serving 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young girls and women during medical treatment.

Part of Simon's letter described the difficulty it was to be president during the Nassar fall out.

"To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment," she wrote. "I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere."

Lou Anna Simon
Michigan State University (MSU) President Lou Anna Simon seen Jan. 17, 2018. Reuters

Simon continued: "As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger ... I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now.  Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement."

Simon has spent her entire professional career, more than 40 years, at MSU. "I love this place," she wrote. "I have watched it grow and prosper, and it has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve as its president since 2005, and over the last few years, to have the opportunity to work with all of you toward our shared goals for MSU."

In response, the chairman of the MSU Board of Trustees released a statement as well.

"President Simon has offered her resignation to the Board of Trustees, and we will accept it," Brian Breslin wrote. "We agree with Dr. Simon that it is now time for change ... We will be working through the details of transition with President Simon through the rest of the week and will announce them as soon as we can."

Breslin continued: "President Simon has served with distinction as MSU's President for 13 years and has been a constant presence at the university for more than 40 years. She literally has devoted her entire professional life to this institution, and more than anyone else has helped make MSU a national and international leader in higher education."

Disgraced ex-doc Larry Nassar sentenced as focus turns to culture of abuse

Many of the victims accused the university of mishandling past complaints about Nassar.

Michigan State officials have denied accusations the school covered up misconduct by school administrators. The university has said reviews by campus police, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office have not resulted in criminal charges against anyone at the university other than Nassar, who was fired in September 2016.

Simon's resignation was welcomed in Michigan's Legislature, where pressure had been building for her to step down or be ousted.

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., a Democrat from East Lansing, where the campus is located, called it "an important step in moving the university forward."

"We need to create a culture at Michigan State where survivors are listened to and believed," Hertel said. "I don't think that's happened - not just in this case. I don't think anyone could say that Lou Anna Simon hasn't had great accomplishments. But I think in this case, her actions did not meet the leadership that we need at Michigan State."

Hertel, who graduated from Michigan State, said further investigation is needed. State Attorney General Bill Schuette will review how Michigan State handled the allegations against Nassar. And the NCAA has asked the school for information regarding potential violations related to Nassar.

"We need to find out beyond the president's office who had reports and didn't act," Hertel said.

Aly Raisman delivers powerful speech at Larry Nassar sentencing

Former Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages resigned last year after she was suspended for defending Nassar over the years. Klages is accused of downplaying complaints made by two teens in 1997.

A Title IX probe conducted by the university cleared Nassar of sexual assault allegations in 2014. At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the investigation ended, according to a university police report that was provided to the FBI for review by the U.S. attorney.

The school let Nassar see patients for 16 months while the campus police also conducted a criminal investigation into the allegations. The local prosecutor declined to charge Nassar in that case.

Simon began her career at Michigan State after earning her doctorate there four-plus decades ago. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say officials wrote off complaints about the doctor who also worked at USA Gymnastics, which trains athletes aspiring to be Olympians.

Following days of searing testimony, the Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told former USA Gymnastics doctor Nassar that he doesn't deserve to walk outside a prison ever again.

"I just signed your death warrant," Aquilina said. After 156 victims had addressed their abuser, Aquilina got her turn.

"Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative," she said.

As the procession of victims came to a close, Rachael Denhollander called for the maximum sentence.

"So I ask, how much is a little girl worth?" she said. "I submit to you that these children are worth everything."

She was the first to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse in a 2016 Indianapolis Star article.

"You started a tidal wave," Aquilina said. "You are the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom."

Rachael Denhollander, one of Larry Nassar's first public accusers, speaks out
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