Nassar Victims Call for Michigan State President's Ouster

June 20, 2018

More than 120 survivors of sexual abuse by former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar signed a letter released Tuesday calling on trustees to fire interim president John Engler.

“President Engler and leaders at MSU have refused to listen,” says the letter, released days before a Friday meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees. “They persist in attacking our character, our integrity and our intelligence. These attacks send a clear message that survivors who speak up will likewise be attacked. They send a clear message that perpetrators and enablers will not be held accountable. They send a message that nothing at MSU -- none of the mindsets that allowed Larry Nassar to abuse children for decades -- have changed.”

It goes on to say that the university cannot become an institution of “integrity and safety” until Engler is no longer president.

Engler, a Republican former governor of Michigan, has been under fire after press reports about emails he exchanged with one of his top aides. In the emails, Engler accused one prominent Nassar survivor, Rachael Denhollander, of likely receiving kickbacks from trial lawyers. He also wrote that survivors were being manipulated by lawyers.

In the wake of those reports, two Michigan State trustees said last week that Engler should resign. Numerous Democratic and Republican lawmakers have also said he should be removed from the presidency.

The letter released Tuesday -- which Denhollander posted on social media -- specifically calls on other trustees to demand Engler’s resignation. It says Nassar’s survivors are not being revictimized or manipulated.

“We chose this fight,” it says. “We chose to speak up because it was clear that no one at MSU would. We chose to speak up because it was the right thing to do. Future and current survivors who deserve justice should know they can raise their voice without being characterized as pawns too foolish to know they are manipulated.”

The email exchange that set off the firestorm began after one of Nassar’s victims accused Engler of offering her $250,000 in a private meeting in March to settle her lawsuit against Michigan State.

Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with Nassar’s survivors in May, months after the former university and U.S. gymnastics team doctor pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting hundreds of women. The Nassar case has already led to the resignation of longtime Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon in January. She was quickly replaced by Engler, a move that led to protests by faculty, students and staff who were unhappy with the process leading to his selection.

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