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Simon's preliminary hearing: Nassar survivor testifies, defense calls motive political

Lou Anna Simon, ex-MSU President, sits with her defense attorneys as her preliminary hearing begins. She faces felony charges for allegedly lying to police during a Title IX investigation about Larry Nassar. (WPBN/Mikenzie Frost)

The preliminary hearing began Tuesday morning in Eaton County for former Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon, who is facing felony charges for allegedly lying to police regarding a 2014 Title IX investigation into Larry Nassar.

Investigators with the Michigan Attorney General’s office launched an investigation into MSU and the Larry Nassar scandal in 2016. Police said it was during questioning in 2018 that Simon, 71, did not disclose what she knew about Nassar in 2014.

Judge Julie Reincke presided over the case, heard in Eaton County District Court because Simon was questioned at the Michigan State Police Headquarters in Diamondale, when police said she was not honest about what she knew.

Tuesday morning’s proceedings marked the start of four scheduled dates for the preliminary hearing. Opening statements were made by both sides and one witness was called – Amanda Thomashow, the woman who filed a Title IX complaint about Nassar in 2014.

Michigan assistant attorney general Scott Teter gave to the opening testimony for the prosecution. In his statement, Teter outlined the chain of command of a Title IX investigation and how he said Simon should have learned of Thomashow’s complaint.

Throughout Thomashow’s emotional testimony, the graphic details of her sexual assault echoed through the courtroom. Before leaving, Reincke thanked Thomashow for her testimony.

Detailed in court documents, then-24-year-old Thomashow filed a complaint with the university following a medical appointment with Nassar at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic.

According to court documents, Kristine Moore was assigned to conduct the Title IX investigation. During the interview, Thomashow told Moore that Nassar placed his hand ‘on her genital opening and massaged it in a circular motion.’

Following that interview, Moore told her supervisor, Paulette Granberry Russell, about Thomashow’s allegation against Nassar. Russell was the director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives as well as an adviser to Simon.

After speaking with Moore, Russell sent an email to Simon, from her MSU email, stating, ‘We have an incident involving a sports medicine doc,’ according to court documents. Several hours later, Moore emailed Russell at Russell’s personal email account, providing a summary of Thomashow’s allegations.

Among documents investigators with the Attorney General’s Office obtained, include Russell’s file folder from the day she and Simon met regarding Nassar. Court documents explain the outside of Russell’s folder contains her handwritten note stating, “Sports Med, Dr. Nassar, SA.” Russell said ‘SA’ stands for sexual assault.

Investigators also obtained Simon’s agenda from the meeting, which occurred on May 19, 2014. Her agenda included an entry for ‘sexual assault cases,’ and next to that, included a notion in Simon’s handwriting of ‘COM,’ which stands for College of Osteopathic Medicine, where Nassar worked.

Simon allegedly told police she did not know the aforementioned Title IX investigation was about Nassar, just ‘some sports medicine doc.’

Simon’s defense attorneys, Lee Silver and Mayer Morganroth, claimed the investigation into Simon was politically motivated.

“The attorney general was a man was a man running against a woman,” Morganroth said, not elaborating further on his comments after the hearing.

He added that it was not the university, or in turn Simon, that did not take the necessary steps to protect women on campus, but Michigan itself.

“It wasn't Lou Anna Simon, it was not Michigan State, it was the government,” explained Morganroth referring to Ingham County not prosecuting Larry Nassar after the MSU Police brought claims to them.

The defense made the claim that Granberry-Russell did not remember any meeting with Simon to discuss the sexual assault claim.

No witnesses were called by the defense Tuesday morning. Morganroth said more witnesses could be called at a later date. Teter referenced calling Granberry-Russell and possible Moore as witnesses as well.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled to reconvene April 8 at 9 a.m.

Follow Political Reporter Mikenzie Frost on Twitter and Facebook. Send tips to mbfrost@sbgtv.com or (517) 897-4861.

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