Frequently Asked Questions

The following Frequently Asked Questions provide answers on Title IX and criminal investigations and the situation involving Larry Nassar.

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Title IX and Criminal Investigations 

What is the difference between the criminal investigation process and MSU’s Title IX investigation process?
The criminal investigation process is intended to determine whether an individual violated criminal law. The Title IX investigation process is intended to determine if MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, has been violated.

Where violations of criminal law are found, individuals can be imprisoned or subject to criminal penalties, as determined by a court of law. Where Title IX violations are found, individuals are subject to university sanctions based on their status with the university. In addition to different outcomes, the investigation processes utilize different evidentiary standards. Consistent with federal guidance, MSU applies the “preponderance of the evidence” standard (as opposed to evidence proving something beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the criminal standard).

The Title IX investigation process relies on the parties and witnesses to provide evidence and information. MSU does not have the ability to issue subpoenas or collect and analyze forensic evidence as is common in the criminal process.

While the criminal process has no definitive timeline, federal guidance says the Title IX investigation should be completed promptly, generally within 60 days. In some limited circumstances, the Title IX investigation may be briefly delayed to ensure that the university investigation does not impede the evidence-gathering portion of a criminal investigation.


Do MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity, the MSU Police and the prosecutor’s office share information?
In some circumstances, information sharing can occur between a criminal investigation and a Title IX investigation; however, the parties to the investigation and witnesses are generally relied upon to share information separately with both MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity and police. The MSU Police and the prosecutor’s office may issue a subpoena to obtain records from the OIE investigation. Police often are limited in the information they can share with OIE until they receive approval from the prosecutor’s office. This is necessary to prevent the MSU investigation process from interfering with ongoing criminal investigations and potential prosecutions.


What does it mean when MSU’s Title IX investigation determines a violation occurred?
The Title IX investigation process differs from a criminal investigation process in that its purpose is to determine if, based on a preponderance of the evidence, an individual has violated MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy. OIE’s conclusion is not a determination that a crime was committed; it is a determination that university policy was violated. Only the criminal justice system can make determinations of guilt regarding criminal acts.


What are the possible outcomes when a violation of MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy is found?
Where the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy has been violated, students are subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, dismissal. Employees are subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, termination. The disciplinary sanctions occur along a continuum based on the severity of the reported behavior. If an individual was found to have violated the policy and is no longer a student or employee, or was never affiliated with the university, MSU may take other steps. These steps include additional training, implementing new or revising existing policies and procedures, or taking other administrative actions.


Where violations of MSU’s policy are found, who determines the sanctions that are issued?
When a student is found to have violated the policy, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution convenes an Anti-Discrimination Policy or Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy Sanction Panel to determine appropriate sanctions. For faculty and academic staff, sanctions are determined by the respondent’s academic unit administrators in consultation with Academic Human Resources. Sanctions for non-academic staff are determined by the unit supervisor in consultation with Employee Relations.


Who reviews appeals and makes the final decision regarding violations and sanctions?

  • For cases involving student respondents:
    • If OIE does not find that the policy was violated, or if OIE does find a policy violation but the ADP/RVSMP Panel’s sanction is less than suspension or expulsion, both the claimant and the respondent have the opportunity to appeal the OIE decision and the ADP/RVSMP Panel’s sanction to the Equity Review Officer.
    • If OIE finds that the policy was violated and the ADP/RVSMP Panel’s sanction is suspension or expulsion, the decision may be appealed to the Vice President of Student Affairs.
  • For cases involving employees, appeals are available through the Equity Review Officer or through the employee’s union grievance process.


Why does MSU sometimes hire an external investigator to review the Title IX complaint?
OIE uses external investigators for a variety of reasons, including the workload in the department, staffing shortages or when we anticipate a case will be complex and may require additional time and attention that would not be feasible for an investigator managing a full caseload.


Why doesn’t MSU release the names of students involved in Title IX investigations?
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act gives students the right to privacy regarding most information relating to their enrollment at MSU. This includes information relating to internal investigations. For this reason, MSU cannot release the names of students involved in an internal investigation; however, the Prosecutor’s Office may release names after charges are issued.  


Questions about Larry Nassar


When did the MSU Police Department receive its first report about Larry Nassar?
On May 15, 2014, the MSU Police Department received its first report about Nassar. The report was sent to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, which declined to file charges.


When did the MSU Police Department receive additional reports against Nassar?
MSU Police Department started receiving additional reports in late August 2016. Media reports about two former gymnasts’ allegations against Nassar received national attention in September that sparked an increase of sexual assault reports.


What did MSU do in response to these allegations?
As soon as potential violations were brought to our attention, we immediately notified police, initiated an investigation and soon thereafter fired Nassar. The basis of his termination was his failure to follow specific instruction after the 2014 investigation.


What is the current status of Nassar's criminal charges?
Larry Nassar, a former employee of Michigan State University, was sentenced Feb. 5, 2018 to 40 to 125 years in prison for three counts of felony criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County Circuit Court. On Jan. 24, 2018, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for seven counts of felony Ingham County Circuit Court. Both the Ingham and Eaton County charges, prosecuted by the Michigan Attorney General, were investigated by the Michigan State University Police Department.

Previously, Nassar was sentenced Dec. 7, 2017, to 60 years in prison on federal child pornography charges brought by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. According to MSU Police, the investigation into the child pornography charges has not revealed any images of victims in the complaints of criminal sexual conduct filed by the state Attorney General’s Office.

The investigation into Nassar began Aug. 29, 2016 after MSU Police took a report of alleged sexual assault. Detectives immediately began an investigation and notified the MSU administration. Nassar was immediately reassigned from all of his clinical duties. The university fired Nassar on Sept. 20, 2016.


If someone has been victimized by Nassar, what should they do?
Anyone who may be a victim or who has information regarding the Nassar case is asked to contact the Michigan State University Police Department’s toll-free tip line at: 844-99-MSUPD (844-99-67873). Individuals are also encouraged to consider accessing campus or community advocacy and support resources.


What resources are available to assist individuals who report incidents?
Both MSU police and MSU’s Office of Insitutional Equity connect individuals who report with advocacy and support resources available on campus and in the community. For more information visit,