Michigan State interim president John M. Engler is in some serious hot water after he made comments about the abuse victims involved in the Dr. Larry Nassar scandal at the university and with Olympic athletes. Engler, who was previously a Republican governor, said he thought that those who were abused by the doctor are “enjoying the spotlight.”
The Chronicle says that the women and girls who were sexually assaulted and abused by Nassar are enjoying the attention, sparking criticism.
“There are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven’t been in the spotlight. In some ways, they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who’ve been in the spotlight, who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition.”
Dianne Y. Byrum, the new chairwoman of the Michigan State Board of Trustees, says that comments like the ones made by Engler don’t help anyone in this matter.
“His remarks were ill-advised and not helpful to the healing process, survivors, or the university.”
It was also revealed that the fund approved to provide counseling to abuse victims might not cover all of Nassar’s victims. Michigan State has already reached settlements with 300 victims, and the money is soon to run out. Engler said that other victims are “probably okay.”
Engler and Michigan State’s decision to close the Healing Assistance Fund angered survivors, and the board overruled the decision and reinstated it, but the most recent comments by the interim president have made things worse once again.
Byrum tweeted today that it’s not Engler who makes these decisions, but the board, which has the final word.
“John Engler does not speak for the board and does not have a vote. The Board of Trustees has the authority to determine the details of a new fund to assist survivors. This will be discussed at the MSU board meeting scheduled for February 15, 2019.”
Survivors have long felt that Engler was not on their side after a series of comments to the press have pitted the two sides against each other. An email between Engler and an associate was printed in the Chronicle last year that suggested that one of Nassar’s victims, Rachael J. Denhollander, was paid a kickback fee to stir up others who had been abused.
Denhollander was furious at the latest comments by the interim president and tweeted her response.
“Engler references survivors enjoying their time in the spotlight. You mean, like having to change the day I grocery-shop so my three kids don’t see a photo of their mom demonstrating what was done to her body? Tell me more about how enjoyable this spotlight is.”