Interim Michigan State President Says Nassar Sexual Assault Victims Enjoy The Spotlight

While answering questions from a newspaper's editorial board, Michigan State interim President John Engler looks to have suggested that some of the Larry Nassar sexual assault victims seem to enjoy the spotlight and recognition.

Engler told the Detroit News that whereas some of the victims might not feel comfortable in the spotlight, there are others who seem to revel in it.

"You've got people, they are hanging on and this has been … there are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven't been in the spotlight," Engler said in the Detroit News report. "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. And it's ending. It's almost done."

The nuts and bolts of the story was about how Michigan State University is trying to revive a fund to pay counseling costs for victims sexually assaulted by Nassar, the former osteopathic physician for MSU and the USA Gymnastics national team doctor who was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison on sexual assault charges.

A total of 156 women and girls made statements at his highly-publicized trial.

The report in the Detroit News states that the Michigan State University Board of Trustees approved reviving a fund to pay for victims' counseling, but a few days later Engler said it might not be available to all victims.

The Healing Assistance Fund would help victims who weren't part of the initial $500 million settlement. A settlement reached in May 2018 requires the school to pay a total of $425 million to 332 claimants. The remaining $75 million will be rewarded to some 172 claimants who, when the sentencing was handed down, were under consideration.

"We are really thinking about that 172," Engler said. "The people who got the $425 million are probably OK."

As Nassar's crimes began to surface in December 2017, MSU established a $10 million fund for healing assistance. Last summer, MSU said it found evidence in fraudulent claims, so it canceled the fund last month, according to the Detroit News.

"I think a lot of ideas will be tossed around," MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said. "We are focused on setting up a fund by learning the lesson we can from the fraud process this summer so the fund is stronger ... We are thinking of ideas of how the fund will look. Nothing is in stone."

An online petition was launched in December to reopen the fund, and it was signed by victims, five MSU Trustees and even newly sworn-in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

"What's interesting is about half of those who seek help have already been in treatment before they came to the university," Engler said. "I was blown away by that number. I just hadn't thought about how many people might (have had) crises before coming to the university."

Though he's the interim president at MSU, Engler is no stranger to the Nassar case or its history. In this piece from Deadspin in June 2018, Engler accused Rachel Denhollander of working for kickbacks in bringing forth more victims to testify against Nassar.

Another report from the Detroit Metro Times said that when Engler was the Michigan Governor, he fought to silence female prisoners who were allegedly sexually assaulted by the guards.