The manager of a small Michigan township dabbed tears as he delivered a public apology to Brianne Randall-Gay, who as a teen reported abuse at the hands of disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in a case local police failed to pursue.
“On behalf of our community, our police department, to you, Brianne, we failed,” Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh said Thursday.
“We let you down. … We felt this needed to be done in public because what happened to you was in public.”
The apology, with Randall-Gay participating via teleconference from her home in Washington state, was yet another emotional moment in the heart-wrenching drama surrounding the decades of abuse by the former Michigan State University doctor sentenced last week to 40 to 175 years in prison.
“You’ve all been through a lot and we’re sorry for that,” Walsh said, referring to Randall-Gay and her family.
Walsh is the top official of Meridian Township, a quiet community of about 39,000 near Lansing. He was joined by Police Chief David Hall to announce new sexual assault training for the department’s 39-member force, a review of every sexual misconduct complaint filed over the last 18 years and a community-based program for young sex assault victims involving Randall-Gay and the investigator who dismissed her case without filing charges.
“I realize how lucky I am to have been able to receive justice and face my abuser,” Randall-Gay said.
“Most will never get that opportunity. I fight today so the next little girl who walks through the doors of this (police) department or any department will not have to suffer for 14 years.”
‘We wish we had this one back’
Walsh and Hall acknowledged that Randall-Gay’s complaint should have been forwarded to prosecutors after the investigator interviewed Nassar. The police chief said he did not see the complaint report until 2016. The department never contacted Michigan State University about the complaint.
“One of the downfalls of the investigation (was that) it should have been passed on to another expert and it wasn’t,” Hall said.
“We were deceived,” he added. “We wish we had this one back.”
Randall-Gay, now 30, was 17 when the Meridian Township police took her complaint against Nassar in September 2004. She told investigator Andrew McCready, now a sergeant, that she was alone during her second visit with the doctor, who was treating her for scoliosis, according to a police report.
According to the report, Nassar massaged her buttocks with his elbow and said, “I bet people at physical therapy don’t do this.” He also rubbed her breasts and tried to penetrate her vagina with his fingers, the report said.
Randall-Gay told the investigator she was scared and uncomfortable during the examination and that “it freaked her out.” She filed the police report after telling her mother what happened during that second visit. She also completed a rape kit examination at a hospital.
When McCready interviewed Nassar, the doctor admitted touching Randall-Gay in her vaginal area, saying it was a medical technique known as the “sacrotuberous ligament release,” the police report said. He said the technique “has been published in medical journals and training tapes,” and provided police a PowerPoint presentation detailing the procedure.
The presentation, titled “The Sacrotuberous Ligament: The Grand Junction,” was written by Nassar and included photos of him performing the procedure.
McCready then contacted Randall-Gay’s mother to tell her he was “closing the case with no prosecution being sought, due to the facts presented … by Dr. Nassar.”
Randall-Gay’s mother told the investigator she was concerned about the way Nassar explained the procedure to her daughter and that he was not wearing gloves during the examination.
‘I felt like I was ignored’
“I felt like my complaint was ignored,” Randall-Gay said Thursday. “I felt like I was ignored.”
Hall said he felt sickened and disappointed when he read the report in 2016.
“We didn’t do our best work,” he said Thursday.
Walsh added, “We are sorry that we were manipulated and deceived back in 2004.”
McCready, an officer since 2000, did not attend Thursday’s news conference. Hall said the sergeant is remorseful and privately apologized to Randall-Gay.
“I hope that he’s learned from this,” she said.
Randall-Gay’s victim impact statement was read at Nassar’s sentencing hearing this month in Ingham County, Michigan, as part of a series of powerful testimonies by victims or victims’ family members who confronted the once world-renowned sports physician in court.
Randall-Gay has said she was hesitant to leave her 7-week-old son at home in Seattle and travel to Michigan for Nassar’s recent sentencing, so her victim impact statement was read in court.
After hearing the statements of other women, though, she decided to travel to Michigan to support them and confront Nassar.
Her travel costs were paid by the Meridian Township police. Walsh said he had been prevented from releasing the 2004 police report or contacting Randall-Gay to apologize because of the Nassar investigation.
“We’ve been criticized for being silent for the last 17 months and, trust me, there were times we wanted to go forward and reach out to Brianne.”
Nassar was sentenced last week after more than 150 women and girls said in court he sexually abused them over two decades.
Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County and admitted to using his trusted medical position to assault and molest girls under the guise of medical treatment. He also pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in federal court and was sentenced in December to 60 years in prison.
Nassar returned to court on Wednesday for sentencing in Eaton County, Michigan, where he has pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual conduct.
At least 65 victims are expected to speak about Nassar’s abuse at his latest sentencing hearing.
The case has led to a widening inquiry into how institutions failed to stop the abuse for so long. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate “every corner” of Michigan State, and several organizations have initiated investigations of USA Gymnastics.