John Engler, the interim president at Michigan State University, resigned Wednesday after receiving backlash against his comments on the survivors of the former physician for two women’s varsity teams at Michigan State University and previous doctor for the American gymnastics team, Larry Nassar, stating the survivors were “enjoying the spotlight.” In an 11-page letter to the board of trustees, Engler stated his plans to officially resign on Jan. 23.
Engler became interim president early last year after Lou Anna K. Simon resigned amid Nassar’s sentencing for sexual abuse and is now currently facing four charges for lying to police about her knowledge of Nassar’s abuse. Nassar is currently serving several prison sentences which ultimately amount to 235 years.
At Nassar’s sentencing hearing last year, 156 survivors made statements about their experiences and exposed Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics’ corruption and disregard for female athletes. Nassar is accused of sexually assaulting over 200 women and girls.
For two decades before Nassar’s arrest, at least 14 Michigan State University representatives were aware of the sexual abuse allegations. Even after police began a criminal investigation in 2014, Nassar continued to see patients at the university for 16 months. Nassar was not fired until new reports of sexual assault were filed to police in 2016.
Michigan State’s Title IX coordinator also dismissed reports from students alleging Nassar had sexually assaulted them. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed harmful new regulations to Title IX that would make it easier for schools to ignore student survivors of sexual violence and sweep allegations of sexual harassment and assault under the rug by getting rid of reporting requirements. DeVos’s setbacks to Title IX will majorly impact the rights of survivors and how schools will handle sexual violence.
Media Resources: Detroit Free Press 1/16/19; New York Times 1/24/18; Lansing State Journal 12/18/18; Feminist Newswire 1/22/17; Feminist Newswire 7/5/18; Feminist Newswire 11/16/18; Feminist Newswire 10/6/17