MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A woman whose assault complaint against Larry Nassar was dismissed without charges being filed in 2004 accepted an apology years later Thursday from a Michigan police chief who said, “We wish we had this one back.”
Brianne Randall-Gay was 17 when she told Meridian Township police that Nassar had molested her with ungloved hands when she sought help for her back. Officers, however, closed the case after the Michigan State University sports doctor offered an aggressive defense and insisted he was using a legitimate medical technique.
Police didn’t seek an outside opinion on Nassar’s technical explanation.
“It should have been passed on to another expert and it wasn’t,” said police Chief Dave Hall, who called that misstep the “downfall” of the investigation.
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Randall-Gay, who participated in the news conference by video from Washington state, said the public apology eases her pain but doesn’t “erase the pain I’ve suffered” since 2004.
“I felt like my complaint was ignored. I felt like I was ignored,” she recalled.
Nassar, who also was a doctor for the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, subsequently assaulted many more girls after 2004, penetrating them with his hands, according to authorities. He was sentenced last week to 40 to 175 years in prison and faces another long sentence next week.
At least 265 women and girls have said they were assaulted in Michigan and elsewhere, some going back to the 1990s.
Hall and township Manager Frank Walsh reached out to Randall-Gay weeks ago and paid for her to travel to Michigan to testify as a victim at Nassar’s sentencing. She said she cried when she received their call. The officer who had handled her complaint, Sgt. Andrew McCready, apologized in private.
“We were deceived. We wish we had this one back,” Hall said.
Meridian Township is next to Michigan State in the Lansing area. In the old police report released Wednesday, Randall-Gay and her mother told investigators that they had visited Nassar to discuss treatment for scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. He sent her to physical therapy but saw her again, this time alone.
She told police that Nassar had removed her underwear, forcibly cupped her genitals with his hand and rubbed her breasts — all without gloves.
“She thought it was ‘weird’ and it ‘freaked her out,'” the police report says.
Nassar told police he applied pressure to the “perineum,” using a formal word for an area between the legs, and said it was done to manipulate a ligament, according to the report.
He provided a paper version of a PowerPoint presentation about the ligament procedure, titled “The Grand Junction.” The case was closed.
Nassar presented officers with a “stack of medical journals this high,” Walsh told reporters Thursday, raising his arm. “He duped us.”
Outside the Nassar matter, the department now is taking a fresh look at any sexual misconduct complaints filed since 2000 to determine if they were handled properly. The chief also will personally review any new cases.
“We can’t undo what happened in 2004. We can only be better because of it, and we’re going to take all the steps necessary to make that happen,” Walsh said.
Meanwhile, one of Nassar’s lawyers said she has doubts about the large number of women and girls who say they’re victims. Shannon Smith told radio station WWJ that it’s “really unfortunate” if some stepped forward only because of publicity in the last few weeks.
Nassar released a statement through a co-counsel, saying Smith’s comments were a distraction.
Courtroom remarks by victims “have pierced my soul, and I will carry their words with me for the rest of my life,” he said.
White reported from Detroit.