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State Briefs

by the associated press • Jun 13, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Ex-MSU dean guilty of neglect in handling Nassar

LANSING (AP) — A former dean who had oversight of now-imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University was found guilty Wednesday of neglect of duty and misconduct in office, but acquitted on a more serious criminal sexual conduct charge.

William Strampel, the ex-dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, was the first person charged after the state’s attorney general launched an investigation more than a year ago into how MSU handled complaints against Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team physician who pleaded guilty to molesting female athletes and possessing child pornography.

Strampel, 71, had been accused of abusing his power to sexually proposition and harass female students for years and not enforcing patient restrictions imposed on Nassar following a 2014 sexual misconduct complaint. Jurors acquitted him of felony criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, a charge that could have sent him to prison for up to 15 years, for grabbing the buttocks of one student at a fundraising ball.

Strampel still faces up to five years in prison on the felony misconduct conviction, which stems from a charge that he used his public office to sexually harass, demean and proposition students who met with him to discuss academic issues. He also was convicted of willfully neglecting a duty to monitor Nassar after protocols were put in place requiring that a third person be present in the exam room for sensitive procedures and limiting skin-to-skin contact — misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 31.

Gypsy moth attacks on Michigan trees expected this summer

LANSING (AP) — Some of Michigan's trees are likely to suffer attacks from leaf-munching gypsy moths in the coming weeks.

The Department of Natural Resources says the invasive pest caused widespread defoliation in the state from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

The moth feasts on foliage during its caterpillar stage. Officials say lots of caterpillars are hatching this spring.

Leaf loss has been reported in Barry, Ionia and Washtenaw counties. The problem is expected to spread.

DNR forest health specialist James Wieferich says the best way to protect trees is to promote their overall health. Forest pests target trees stressed from drought, old age or root damage.

Mature trees usually can withstand gypsy moth defoliation and simply grow more leaves. But they can suffer if it happens year after year.

Northern Michigan pastor faces more sexual assault charges

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — A pastor of a church in northern Michigan is facing additional charges after a fifth man recently came forward accusing him of sexual assault.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported the man said Christopher Cox, 41, assaulted him last summer at Cox's office. The new charges from Grand Traverse County prosecutors follow earlier charges on accusations that Cox sexually assaulted men and viewed child pornography on his laptop.

The case began after two men told investigators Cox gave them methamphetamine and sexually assaulted them once they became drunk or inebriated.

Cox's attorney said his client "maintains he violated no crimes and intends to proceed to trial." The case is scheduled to return to court June 18.

Cox is pastor of Long Lake Church in Traverse City.

4 rescued after getting stranded canoeing in Lake Superior

MUNISING (AP) — Authorities said they rescued a family of four from Minneapolis that got stranded while canoeing in Lake Superior along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

The Alger County Sheriff's Office said a tour boat operator reported several people were stranded along the Upper Peninsula lakeshore at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. Rescue boats were sent.

Two adults were canoeing with two young children along the shore when they were overtaken by winds and waves. They ended up swimming about 150 yards to shore to reach a beach, where they were spotted by passengers and the captain of the tour boat.

The family was rescued and taken to a hospital for evaluation. Names weren't immediately released.

Sheriff's officials are urging people to use "extreme caution" when venturing out on Lake Superior.

2nd county clerk in West Michigan hurt on motorcycle

IONIA (AP) — Another county clerk in West Michigan has been injured while riding a motorcycle.

The Daily News reported that Ionia County Clerk Janae Cooper broke a leg last Friday while riding a motorcycle in a parking lot. She told the newspaper that she'll return to full-time work when she gets permission from her doctor.

Deputy Clerk Amy Gorham said Cooper was practicing and the "motorcycle just turned wrong."

Just to the north in Montcalm County, Clerk Kristen Millard crashed a motorcycle last September. She pleaded guilty to drunken driving.

Clerks are elected in each county. They oversee local elections and public records and handle many other duties.

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