By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – A lawsuit filed on Thursday by former Michigan State University athletes victimized by Larry Nassar alleges that its trustees voted in secret to withhold thousands of documents related to the disgraced team doctor in violation of state law.
“We contend that board members made a behind-closed-doors secret decision not to release the records in blatant violation of the Open Meetings Act,” Azzam Elder, a lawyer for the victims, said in a statement.
Elder also said the board violated the Freedom of Information Act in denying the plaintiffs access to emails that may have shown whether the trustees made a decision on the documents behind closed doors.
The lawsuit asked the Ingham County Circuit Court to require the board to vote publicly on whether to release the documents or keep them confidential.
The school said in April that attorney-client privilege protect the documents. MSU on Thursday said it did not have further comment on pending litigation.
MSU, Nassar’s former employer, previously agreed to a near $500 million settlement with the hundreds of women who were sexually abused by Nassar. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, with whom Nassar also worked as a team doctor, reached a $380 million settlement.
Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in 2018 after being convicted of sexually abusing young female gymnasts, including Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, over the years when he worked as a team doctor.
His sentencing followed an extraordinary week-long hearing in which 160 of his victims, most of whom were minors at the time they were abused, unflinchingly told their stories.
Earlier this month, Nassar was stabbed multiple times by another inmate in prison and was in stable condition.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Frank McGruty and Aurora Ellis)