MSU's issues handling sex assault run deeper than athletic department, attorney says

- More questions for MSU as the fallout from the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal continues to grow, and although the attorney general is now investigating, many people say the school's problems with sexual assault run much deeper than the athletic department.

Local attorney Jen Salvatore says she handles Title IX complaints at universities all over the state but says when it comes specifically to sexual assault cases at MSU, she gets much more push back.

"There has been historically a systemic problem at Michigan State in terms of how these cases have been addressed, in terms of the transparency involved," she said.

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Salvatore knows exactly what it's like dealing with Michigan State University in court. She's representing three former students in sexual assault cases in civil suits against the university.

"It was reported, it was investigated, and it was found to be not enough evidence to determine that a violation had occurred. That same perpetrator went on to sexually assault another student, who was our second plaintiff," Salvatore said.

MSU's Title IX office initially handled all of the complaints of her clients in 2012 and 2013. It's their job to determine if a student essentially broke the school's code of conduct. Salvatore says the women's sexual assault complaints were mishandled and the university took too long to investigate.

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"Living through a year of an investigation, and having him still on campus, I mean that's a quarter of your college experience," she said.

She says lawyers for the university have thrown every legal roadblock possible her way. She sees the same happening with the survivors of former MSU gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in their civil suits. 

"MSU is trying to say we are addressing these issues, there's going to be accountability, yet they are on every turn moving to get these civil cases dismissed and ensure that the victims aren't compensation," she said.

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As Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette expands his investigation into MSU's handling of these complaints, Salvatore says down the road she thinks the university will have to pay up.

"There's going to be some compensation for the victims in those cases as well as in the cases we have brought," she said.

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