William Strampel, the former dean of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and the first university official convicted in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, has lost an appeal of his felony conviction.

Strampel, Nassar’s former boss, was convicted by a jury in 2019 of misconduct in office, a felony, of making sexually-charged comments to women who sought academic help from him.

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William Strampel listens during his sentencing in 2019 in a Lansing courtroom. (Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr., The Detroit News)

He was also convicted of two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty for his failure to properly supervise Nassar, charges he did not appeal, and he was acquitted of a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge.

Strampel’s attorneys argued his conviction on the misconduct in office charge should be overturned because he did not meet the criteria to be a public official in Michigan. They argued the Legislature did not create the position of dean at the college and that Strampel did not report directly to MSU’s Board of Trustees, two requirements they say are established by MCL 750.505, the law that defines public officials in Michigan.

A three-judge panel unanimously rejected both arguments in an opinion released Thursday.

The judges wrote that the Michigan Legislature created MSU and its medical school and that as the dean of the medical school Strampel was accountable to the Board of Trustees.

“Here, defendant, in the position of dean of the COM, was a public officer for purposes of the charge of misconduct in office,” the ruling says. “The trial court therefore correctly determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion by binding defendant over to the trial court based upon that determination of law.”

John Dakmak, an attorney for Strampel, said they are assessing options including an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“While we disagree with the opinion of the Court of Appeals, we respect the panel’s decision,” said Dakmak. 

Strampel was the first university official to face charges in the fallout from the scandal involving Nassar, who sexually abused hundreds of women by inserting his fingers into their vaginas under the guise of medical treatment while he was an osteopathic physician at MSU, with USA Gymnastics and with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Nassar is serving an effective life sentence. He pleaded guilty to federal child porn charges and sexual assault charges in Ingham and Eaton counties.

Strampel, who was dean of MSU’s osteopathic medical school from 1999 to 2018, retired after being charged by then-Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office in 2018. 

Prosecutors claimed Strampel used his role as dean to take advantage of female students and make sexually inappropriate comments when he met privately with them to discuss academic issues. For instance, he allegedly told one woman she needed to “dress sexier” to make it in medicine. Some students perceived his comments as offers of help in exchange for sexual favors. Still others alleged that Strampel said he knew women who “put out” for older men for gifts.

Strampel was sentenced to one year in jail but was released several months early last year.

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