MSU Board of Trustees revokes request to release over 6,000 documents related to Larry Nassar

The Hannah Administration Building/Photo Credit: MSU University Communications

The Hannah Administration Building/Photo Credit: MSU University Communications

Nathan Stearns, News Director

EAST LANSING— In response to a request by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to release over 6,000 documents related to the university’s handling of investigations surrounding years of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the Michigan State Board of Trustees released an email on Friday rejecting Nessel’s request from Feb. 24. 

In the release, Dianne Byrum, the chairperson for the board of trustees, mentioned that the board will not revoke attorney-client privilege related to investigations surrounding the university’s handling of Nassar. As such, the investigation will be forced to conclude, as no other legal recourse exists for the documents to be released. 

“The attorney-client privilege is a fundamental legal right that applies to all individuals and institutions in the United States,”  Byrum said in the email. “The scope of the privilege is narrow. The attorney-client privilege only applies to confidential communications by a client to its attorney that are made for the purpose of obtaining legal advice. It does not protect against the discovery of facts. Facts are not privileged.”

In the original request authored by Nessel on Feb. 24, she asked for the university to waive the attorney-client privilege in order for her investigative team to reexamine thousands of legal documents.

“If the Board does not consent, my office will be forced to close its investigation without conclusion, and you will have shut the door on the pursuit of justice,” Nessel said. “I cannot think of a worse conclusion to the investigation—which this Board asked for—than that.”

In early 2018, the board previously asked for former attorney general Bill Schuette to open an investigation to examine if anyone at Michigan State covered for or empowered Nassar during his decades-long spree of sexual assault against minors.  Nessel continued the investigation after being sworn into office in January of 2019.