120 Nassar survivors say John Engler 'has failed miserably,' call for his removal

Posted at 8:45 AM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 12:19:31-04

More than 100 survivors of Larry Nassar signed a letter urging the Michigan State University Board of Trustees to remove Interim President John Engler following the release of emails last week where Engler criticized lawyers who represent the survivors.

"We, the Sister Survivors of Larry Nassar's horrific sexual abuse, stand together against the recent character attacks made towards us and derogatory statements aimed at all survivors of sexual abuse by Michigan State University President John Engler," the letter begins. "While our hope had been that President Engler would bring accountability, transparency, and change to MSU, it is clear to us that he cannot."

The letter comes days after two trustees, Brian Mossalum and Dianne Byrum, called for his resignation.

"His misguided actions and comments have failed to reestablish trust and confidence in Michigan State University," Mosallam said in a statement released Friday morning.

“The despicable and disparaging comments made about survivors by Interim President John Engler are completely unacceptable," Byrum said in a statement. "Yesterday I called upon the interim president to apologize for these hurtful remarks, he failed to do so, and therefore I have concluded he is no longer the right person to lead Michigan State University during this difficult period.”

According to emails, Engler has criticized lawyers who represent Nassar's assault victims and suggested the first woman to go public with her accusations was probably getting a "kickback" from her attorney.

His remarks were made to another university official in April, a month before Michigan State agreed to a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who said they were sexually assaulted by Nassar, a former campus sports doctor now serving decades in prison.

The Chronicle of Higher Education and Detroit Free Press reported on the emails Wednesday.

Engler, a former Michigan governor, exchanged emails with Carol Viventi, a Michigan State vice president and special counsel following allegations at a stormy public meeting that Engler was trying to pay off a woman without her lawyer's input.

"The survivors now are being manipulated by trial lawyers who in the end will each get millions of dollars more than any of individual survivors with the exception of (Rachael) Denhollander who is likely to get kickback from Manley for her role in the trial lawyer manipulation," Engler said, misspelling attorney John Manly's name.

"President Engler's abhorrent behavior - including gaveling down a survivor who only wanted him to listen and belligerently abrasive statements unmasking a survivor who only sought the comforts of confidentiality - has sent a chilling message across MSUs' campus, causing damage that cannot be repaired until he is gone," the letter continues.

It goes on, saying, "President Engler has failed miserably," and calls out Trustees Melanie Foster, Brian Breslin, Mitch Lyons, Joel Ferguson, Dan Kelly and George Perles to stand up against Engler.

Last week, Engler said he would not resign, adding, "I continue to look ahead."

You can read the entire letter below.

120 Nassar survivors call for Engler's removal by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd