By Dan Bernstein —
670TheScore.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) Outgoing Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon and convicted child molester Larry Nassar have something in common, in that neither can admit they did anything wrong.
Simon was finally forced to resign her position Wednesday night after a barrage of outside pressure finally overwhelmed the full-throated support she had been receiving from the board of trustees amid reports that she and other officials were all too aware of complaints and investigations regarding Nassar and chose not to know more, rather than do all they could to help victims and protect others from harm. Calls for her removal by students, the Michigan state legislature and a chorus of independent voices were finally and belatedly heeded.
And her departing letter turned defiant, much like the one Nassar wrote that was read in part by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina at his sentencing Wednesday.
After paying cursory lip-service to victims, Simon showed her true and shameful colors in the penultimate paragraph.
“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable,” she wrote in smarmy passive voice. “As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.”
Rather than accept any responsibility for the rampant failures on her watch, she boasted about being “proud of the exceptional work of the Special Victims Unit,” “proud of my support of their work” and “pleased that statements have been made … about my integrity.” She concluded by indicating that she was resigning only because, “I cannot make it about me now.”
“Anyone who knows me knows I am a principled person,” she wrote. “I love this place. I have watched it grow and prosper.”
And she presided over an administration that protected and enabled Larry Nassar — 20 years of a monster using Michigan State facilities to commit violent crimes against innocent girls, but that’s not particularly important to her right now.
In the letter Nassar wrote after his federal conviciton, he claimed his actions were “medical, not sexual.”
“I was a good doctor, because my treatments worked and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over,” he insisted. “The media convinced them that it was wrong and bad. The media is sensationalizing this.”
Aquilina spoke his odious words aloud merely to drive home her point of Nassar being beyond rehabilitation or redemption, then made a show of tossing the letter away.
The same should be done with Simon’s and with any similar comments made by the tone-deaf trustees who now need to follow her out the door. Even now they are bent on trumpeting their own successes rather than confront their misdeeds of willful ignorance that allowed for crimes to be committed on their watch.
Judge Aquilina’s statement to Nassar included a warning meant to resonate beyond him.
“Inaction is an action,” she said. “Silence is indifference. Justice requires a voice, and that’s what happened in this court. There has to be a massive investigation as to why there was inaction, why there was silence.”
That’s for USA Gymnastics, and that’s for Michigan State University.
For Nassar, she said, “I find that you don’t get it, that you’re a danger.”
She could have been speaking to Lou Anna Simon.