Authorities in a Michigan town offered a public apology on Thursday to a victim of Larry Nassar for the police’s failure to believe that she was sexually abused by the former USA Gymnastics doctor more than a decade ago.
Brianne Randall-Gay – who was 17 at the time – reported Nassar to the Meridian Township police department in 2004, but the case was closed after he convinced investigators his actions were legitimate medical treatment. “We were deceived. We wish we had this one back,” police chief Dave Hall told a news conference where Randall-Gay, who lives in Seattle, appeared via video call.
“We let you down, Brianne,” added the township manager Frank Walsh, fighting back tears.
Randall-Gay is one of at least 265 young female athletes – including several Olympic medalists – identified as having been abused by Nassar, who was sentenced on January 24 to between 40 and 175 years in prison, and was back in court this week to answer yet more sexual abuse charges.
She was also among 158 victims who confronted Nassar in court at an emotionally-charged trial that gripped the nation. In her testimony, she said Nassar convinced officers that she had misunderstood his treatments – even though she had a rape kit done to support her claim of abuse.
“I was disappointed there were no charges filed,” Randall-Gay said. “I felt I was ignored.”
According to a police report on the incident released on Wednesday, Randall-Gay told police that Nassar had fondled her right breast and attempted to digitally penetrate her during an appointment to treat her back. She and her mother filed a report with the Meridian Township police in September 2004.
When interviewed by police, Nassar persuaded the detective assigned to the case, Andrew McCready, that his actions were legitimate treatment.
Nassar deceived the detective
As supporting evidence, he gave the detective a 26-page PowerPoint presentation filled with technical terminology and claimed the technique had been published in medical journals.
“He was deceived,” Hall said of McCready. “At that point in time, it should have immediately been taken down to the prosecutor’s office, and it wasn’t.”
“He is remorseful. He has apologised,” Hall said of McCready.
Officials had waited months to release the 2004 police report at the request of state prosecutors who were concerned public disclosure could jeopardize their ongoing case against Nassar.
As the sentencing hearings neared their conclusion, town officials telephoned her to apologize, on January 19. “I immediately broke down,” Randall-Gay said. “This is a phone call I had been waiting almost 14 years for.”
The Meridian police chief said the town felt they had to go beyond the direct apology to her. “We knew that we had to apologize to the public, and apologize to Brianne again,” Hall said.
A newly-appointed interim police chief at the time of the 2004 report, Hall pledged the department would implement additional officer training and review 18 years’ worth of past reports for other mishandled cases. None have been found so far.
The police chief also promised to review every new investigation into sexual abuse claims, to make sure that it is handled properly.