15 years later, Nassar victim gets answers: why didn’t police believe me?

Mar 26, 2019
Originally published on March 28, 2019 9:24 am

For nearly 15 years, Brianne Randall-Gay has been looking for answers.

Why didn’t the Meridian Township Police believe her in 2004, when she told them Larry Nassar sexually assaulted her under the guise of medical treatment?

Why didn’t they follow typical procedure and send her case to the prosecutor for review? And why were detectives so willing to accept Nassar’s lies, they didn’t even bother running his explanations past another medical expert?

Today, Randall-Gay may not have any more peace. But after months of pushing the township to hire an independent investigator to review her case, she does have an 88-page report that attempts to answer: how did this go so wrong?  

The assault, a police report, and a case quickly closed

In 2004, Randall-Gay was a 17-year-old high school student, trying to balance school, work, family, and scoliosis. Her mom was thrilled when they got an appointment with Larry Nassar, who was then a beloved sports doctor at Michigan State University and the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

The first appointment went great. Then, for the second visit, Randall-Gay went alone. As she later told Meridian Township Police, Nassar had her undress and lay down on the exam table. Without wearing gloves or getting her consent, Nassar proceeded to forcefully grope her bare breast, massage her vaginal area, and cup her buttocks. “It seemed like he attempted to penetrate her vagina with his fingers,” Detective Andrew McCready wrote in his report. “However, he was unable to do so because she had a tampon inserted at the time.”

After Randall-Gay reported the assault to police, she went to the local hospital for a rape kit examination. But Larry Nassar told Detective McCready a very different story during their interview in 2004.

Yes, he had touched Randall-Gay “in the perineum, applying pressure with his fingers as he did so,” the report says. But Nassar said it was “a medical technique known as the Sacrotuberous Ligament Release,” and gave police a PowerPoint presentation he presented at medical trainings.

Less than a month after Randall-Gay went to police, Detective McCready closed the case. In the report, he mentions telling Randall-Gay’s mom that “we would be closing the case with no prosecution being sought, due to the facts presented to me by Dr. Nassar.”

Randall-Gay’s mom, Ellen Speckman-Randall, remembers asking for a meeting with Nassar. She recalls telling both the detective and Nassar that, even if they believed this was a legitimate technique, there were other issues here.

“I have real problems with him having a girl come in, and change her clothes in front of him, and him put his fingers inside of her without telling her he's going to do that,” Speckman-Randall recalls saying.

“Without her permission and without a glove, and without lubrication and then massaging her breast, and with nobody in the room! It's like, this is so wrong. And I kept trying to get that across to them. That was the point. And then they let it go.”

There is no mention of a meeting between Speckman-Randall, Nassar, and Detective McCready in the 2004 police report.

Despite township apology, victim pushes for independent answers

Years later, after Larry Nassar’s arrest in 2016 and his sentencing in 2018, Meridian Township officials publically apologized to Randall-Gay. Because of her case, township police say they reviewed nearly 600 sexual assault cases, and eventually reopened seven of them.  

But Randall-Gay still had questions. After months of conversations with police and local officials, Randall-Gay submitted a letter “with specifics of issues I wanted addressed in [an independent] investigation,” per the police department’s request.

The township hired Kenneth Ouellette, a private investigator formerly with the East Lansing Police Department, to tackle Randall-Gay’s questions. His findings were released in a public report on Tuesday.

Why police didn’t interview medical experts

One of Randall-Gay’s big questions: why didn’t Detective McCready vet Nassar’s so-called medical techniques with any other experts in the field?

In his report, Ouellette says he interviewed McCready, who’s been promoted to sergeant.

McCready told Ouellette he “did not pursue further explanation of the procedure because he ‘believed his (Nassar's) lies.’”

“Specifically, McCready believed that Nassar was performing a legitimate medical procedure.” [sic] McCready indicated Meridian Township did not have the money to consult a doctor. He states, ‘You just can't walk into a doctor's office and ask them questions about something like this." He said it was not up to the police department to obtain expert witnesses, and it was up to the prosecutor's office to do so if deemed necessary for court.”

Except prosecutors didn’t get that opportunity. Because McCready never sent Randall-Gay’s case to them for review.

The only sexual assault case detective did NOT send to prosecutors

That was unusual for him, Ouellette found: over the two and a half years McCready worked for the detective’s bureau, he handled 14 criminal sexual conduct investigations. He sent all but one to the prosecutors for review: the Nassar case.

Ouellette writes:

“In the Randall case, McCready did not send it on because he believed no crime had been committed.

In McCready's interview on February 6, 2019, he acknowledged to this investigator he would not be in

the interview and be involved in a Managers Review Investigation if he had only sent the investigation

on to the prosecutor's office. He also mentioned it was "not his best work." This investigator asked

McCready if he were confronted with the same circumstances, would he do anything different. He .

replied, "Yes." This investigator asked what he would do differently, and he stated that he did not want

to share what he would do differently.”

Report: meeting with victim’s mother, Nassar, and police did happen

Another question Randall-Gay wanted answered: why is there no record of the 2004 meeting between her mother, Larry Nassar, and the Meridian Township Police?

Ouellette, the investigator, talked to Randall-Gay’s mom, Ellen Speckman-Randall. In a 50-minute interview, she walked him through her memory of the meeting in detail.

But when Ouellette asked Sgt. McCready, McCready said, “he was about 99.9% sure there was no meeting between the victim's mother, father, Nassar and himself. He said even if there was a meeting, he would not have felt it necessary to have included it in the report anyway.”

In his report, Ouellette says he’s convinced the meeting did, in fact, take place.

“This opinion is reached primarily because of McCready's comments made during his interview. He stated, ‘You know not everything is put in a police report.’ In addition, McCready stated in his interview, that he may have done things in the investigation, yet would not have put it in the report. When questioned on this matter, he became defensive, stating the meeting would not have reached the level of importance to have included it in the report.”

Police didn’t do an internal investigation into McCready, just a “Manager’s Review.”  

Randall-Gay says she was told the township did an internal investigation into the mishandling of her case. What did that investigation find, she wanted to know? Was there a report of those findings?

But Ouellette found that actually, the township didn’t do an internal investigation. Instead, Township Manager Frank Walsh told Ouellette he did something called a “Manager’s Review.”

“Walsh indicated the reason for the Manager's Review was to determine what if any, actions should be

taken against McCready for his investigation of the Randall case, and his failure to send the report to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office for review. Walsh made it clear that the review was initiated by him, investigated by him and the decision was ultimately made by him, not to discipline McCready for his actions.”

When asked why he didn’t launch a full internal affairs investigation in the police department, Walsh told Ouellette that at first: 

"...he was not sure how much, if any, culpability may have been associated with the Chief, and Walsh wanted to know if there were any possible improprieties that existed on the part of the department. Once he determined, in all likelihood, that there were no intentional departmental improprieties, Walsh involved [now retired] Chief [Dave] Hall.”

Ultimately, officials decided not to discipline Sgt. McCready for his handling of the Nassar case.

“The manager acknowledged looking into McCready's previous CSC investigations, including Randall's case, as well as McCready's work record both previous and subsequent to the Randall investigation. After weighing all factors, a decision was made by Walsh and only him, not to discipline McCready for not sending the report to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office for review.”

Township hopes report helps victim “continue her healing”

On Tuesday, Randall-Gay released a written statement responding to the report. After thanking both the township and Ouellette, she wrote, “It is important for me to be honest with my feelings regarding this investigation and failures within the department. However, I struggle with the thought of my words hurting those involved.

"As angry as I am, I have sympathy for Sergeant McCready and others involved in this case as I do not believe they had mal-intent. I know the overwhelming guilt I feel every day for not pursuing this in 2004 and I can’t imagine the guilt that they too must feel. They made a mistake, a mistake that they will live with the rest of their lives. I offered my forgiveness in the past and I continue to extend my forgiveness to them.

“My hope is that the evidence submitted in this investigation will help the township address these failures and ensure that they are able to provide victims the support and access to the justice system that they deserve. They have made the initial steps to do this, but only time will tell if their commitment will continue.”

For Township Manager Frank Walsh, this report doesn’t have any “surprises,” but it does provide “more of the details of the actual [2004] investigation.”

“I think that Brianne, to continue her healing, this investigation was really important to answer her questions,” Walsh says. “I think us providing a pathway to closure for Brianne was important…[and] this department, this community, this township is going to continue our work and expand it in the area of [preventing] sexual assaults and making it easier to come forward.”

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