The first time Larry Nassar was reported to law enforcement—when Brianne Randall-Gay filed a complaint with the Meridian township police department in 2004—the case never made it to the prosecutor. In a newly released police report, it’s easy to see why. There was little police investigation beyond a few interviews and, per the police report, Det. Andrew McCready quickly concluded soon after talking with Nassar that the treatment for the 17-year-old’s scoliosis that was described to him as “massaging [the victim’s] buttocks,” “squeezing her breasts,” “pressing hard on her vagina,” and “trying to put his finger in her vagina” was a legitimate medical procedure. From the report, it doesn’t appear that the detectives sought any medical opinion of the “treatment” from other doctors or healthcare professionals. There’s also no indication that any officers alerted Children’s Protective Services. The only medical opinion in the file was provided by the suspect.
The documents released Wednesday show the detectives’ investigation was weak; surely such an effort shouldn’t have satisfied the person who oversaw the detectives, Sgt. Al Spencer. According to two officers who worked at the Meridian township police department in 2004 and are knowledgeable about the department’s workflow, Sgt. Al Spencer was responsible for reviewing cases and deciding whether to send them to the prosecutor. Why didn’t he?
Deadspin called Spencer, who is now a mental health court probation officer for the 55th district court in Ingham County, Michigan, who said, “To be honest with you, I don’t recall the case at all. I don’t have any memory of it.”
Spencer was in charge of the detective bureau at the time but told Deadspin he has no idea why the case wasn’t forwarded to the prosecutor.
“When I first heard that the township was looking into this last week, I didn’t realize that it was in 2004,” he said. “I thought it was after I had left. My question was, why wasn’t it taken to the prosecutor’s office?”
Spencer confirmed to Deadspin that it was his decision on whether to sign off on closing the case or sending it to the prosecutor. Deadspin asked why it wasn’t sent to the prosecutor.
“I can’t answer that. I don’t know,” he said, after a long pause. He reiterated that he didn’t remember the case at all.
Maybe Spencer doesn’t remember or maybe it’s a convenient defense, but it hasn’t stopped him from demanding explanations from other institutions, which also failed to stop Nassar, on his Facebook page.
“The only thing I can think of is that during that time, I was going through staff command school,” Spencer said. “So I was gone one week a month. I don’t know if it came in during the week I was gone. But I can’t say because I don’t know the dates involved.”
Regardless of his training schedule, police records confirm that Spencer had a role in the case. McCready started one report by noting that it was Spencer who had assigned it.
Deadspin left messages with Meridian Township police chief Dave Hall and attempted to reach McCready, as well as the other detectives named in the police report, Bart Crane and Paul Rambo, and received no response.
Meridian township leaders are expected to hold a press conference today to apologize for how they handled the Nassar investigation. They were not the only ones who, when given the chance, looked the other way instead of asking tough questions about what Nassar was doing. A decade later, a Michigan State graduate student would report Nassar to the university, and the ensuing Title IX investigation cleared him and an MSU police investigation failed to result in criminal charges. In February of last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI, which had been notified by USA Gymnastics about allegations against Nassar in July 2015, waited nearly nine months to start investigating. And in 2015, an Ingham County prosecutor declined to bring charges against Nassar.
The Meridian Township police wasn’t the only law enforcement arm to dismiss the case—but it was the first.