Nassar Victims Call For Interim MSU President’s Resignation After Insulting Email Was Discovered
More than 120 victims in one of the biggest sex abuse scandals in athletic history are calling for Michigan State University’s interim president to resign after emails reveal he made insulting statements about several of the victims.
Emails obtained by The Chronicle last Wednesday through a public records request show John Engler, current interim president of the university, and Carol M. Viventi, his vice president and special counsel, corresponding about allegations by Larry Nassar victim Kaylee Lorincz against Engler.
Lorincz asserted during an MSU board meeting in April that Engler tried to offer her $250,000 settlement during a private meeting between them without her lawyer present.
Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan, denied her allegations. Days after Lorincz’s claim, Viventi defended Engler in emails, saying, “Victims can say anything and we have to dance around their ‘misconceptions’. The plaintiff’s attorneys are very adept at getting their narrative out there … if we respond, we just give them more opportunity to argue back or say we’re denying responsibility., etc. Unfortunately, we’re stuck trying to get real improvement (7 pages worth!) things [sic] done and getting to mediation. We can’t defend ourselves in the press, but I wanted you all to know we were nowhere near being in the same room and discussion with her,” she wrote to the MSU board.
Engler also suggested through other emails with Viventi that another victim, namely Rachael Denhollander, the first accuser to come forward with sexual assault allegations against the former MSU sports doctor Nassar, was being used as a pawn by her attorney to make money.
“The survivors now are being manipulated by trial lawyers who in the end will each get millions of dollars more than any of [sic] individual survivors with the exception of Denhollander who is likely to get [sic] kickback from Manley [sic] for her role in the trial lawyer manipulation,” Engler wrote.
“It’s vile. It’s disgusting. It’s untrue and it’s defamatory,” Denhollander told NBC News. “This has never been about the money.”
Engler took over from former MSU president Lou Anna Simon who was pushed out amidst allegations that she ignored the warnings about Nassar’s abuse. MSU reached a $500 million settlement with the 332 alleged victims, many of whom were Olympic gymnasts who suffered at the hands of Nassar when he was their team doctor. (RELATED: MSU Claims That Larry Nassar Didn’t Violate NCAA Rules)
“President Engler has failed miserably,” 120 of the women said in an open letter to the trustees on Tuesday. “President Engler and leaders at MSU have refused to listen. They persist in attacking our character, our integrity and our intelligence.”
Five members of Congress from Michigan, three Republican state lawmakers and a Republican candidate for governor have all called for Engler to step down as well as MSU trustees Brian Mosallam and Dianne Byrum.
“If you expect contrition from John Engler, you are not going to get it,” T.J. Bucholz, former Engler gubernatorial administration staffer told NBC News. “President Engler is not going to resign unless the board forces him to do so, or the governor. The man is incredibly tenacious. He will not give up unless he is forced to.”
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