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Bassett hound is victim in sexual assault case involving MSU health physicist

hatteyMichigan State University has had its hands full with, and its coffers drained by, a sexual assault scandal involving the university physician who sexually abused young women under the guise of administering medical treatment.

Now comes another allegation, on behalf of a victim who is not a gymnast, but a bassett hound.

Joseph Hattey, a health physicist within MSU’s Environmental Health and Safety office, has been charged with two counts of bestiality.

Hattey, according to a press release by the Michigan attorney general’s office, penetrated the animal with his hand and his penis. It is not believed the crimes happened on the Michigan State University campus, and the dog was not one owned by the university.

Hattey, 51, had previously been assigned duties within the university’s Veterinarian Diagnostic Laboratory.

The bassett hound is in custody of Ingham County Animal Control.

An MSU spokesperson issued this statement:

“Michigan State University was informed by the MSU Police Department on April 17 of a criminal investigation against Joseph Hattey, a health physicist with the Environmental Health and Safety Unit (note this position does not work with students, patients or animals). Hattey was immediately put on administrative suspension, pending the investigation. The university has been and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials on this matter. MSUPD is providing digital forensic support in the investigation.”

Hattey entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment on the charges Monday. A preliminary hearing is set for June 21.

“These are merely allegations that have not been proven,” Hattey’s attorney, Alexander Rusek, told the Lansing State Journal. “Mr. Hattey pleaded not guilty in court today and looks forward to addressing the fact of the matter during the preliminary examination.”

Michigan State University has been rocked by a sex scandal involving a university physician who also served as doctor for the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team.

The university, under the terms of a settlement, has agreed to pay $500 million to victims of Lawrence G. Nassar, who was sentenced to 40-125 years in prison.

That settlement is believed to be the largest ever reached in a sexual abuse case involving an American university.

Therapy dog comforts Dr. Nassar’s victims

prestonleashes1

There’s a dog sitting outside the Michigan courtroom where 144 victims of former Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar are reading statements on how they were impacted by the sexual abuse they say he put them through.

The 2-year-old Labrador retriever’s job? To bring those victims some comfort before and after their testimony.

Preston, a therapy dog, sits in the hallway of the Ingram County Circuit Court in Lansing and makes himself available to the victims, ABC News reported.

“Having Preston here has just been a joy,” said Samantha Ursch, 29, who testified last week about abuse by Nassar in 2011 while she was a gymnast at Central Michigan University. “He is a comfort, especially for a lot of us that have pets at home,” she added. “I’m away from my two dogs so having him here has been amazing and comforting.”

nassarleashes1The statements are part of a sentencing hearing for Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in Ingham County.

Nassar, who worked at Michigan State University, faces a sentence of 40 to 125 years.

He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges.

Preston usually has permission to sit inside Ingham County courtrooms when the prosecutor or family of victims request his presence. Usually he sits at the side of children or adults victimized by sexual abuse as they testify.

In the Nassar sentencing hearing, because the courtroom is so crowded with spectators, he is sitting in the hallway.

“This is the first time we’ve taken the approach of being in the hallway,” his handler, Ashley Vance said of the high-profile Nassar case. “It’s a really nice break for people to come out and have that comfort and support …I’ve seen people just kind of swarming him. [He offers] silent, nonjudgmental support and it’s just calming.”

aly-raismanleashes1Vance said the state’s attorney general’s office requested Preston’s presence during the hearing.

The dog works for the Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center in Lansing, where he began as a therapy dog in September 2016. He works both in courtrooms and at the children’s advocacy center, where children are interviewed by police and prosecutors after reports of abuse.

“Preston is providing a lot of unconditional love and comfort to some people who really need it right now,” said Alex Brace, executive director of Small Talk. “It’s very much about healing and providing hope to survivors of sexual assault and physical abuse.”

The statements from victims continued all day yesterday as they sometimes tearfully, sometimes angrily described the impact he had on their lives. Aly Raisman, one of the multiple Olympic gymnasts who say they were molested by Nassar, delivered her statement in court last week.

(Top photo by Chris Haxel / Lansing State Journal; photos of Nassar, Raisman by Brendan McDermid / Reuters)