John Engler wants to be judged by his actions, not his e-mails
After the Michigan State University Board of Trustees voted not to fire him over an e-mail that he sent back in the middle of April, Michigan State interim president John Engler has revealed that he wants to be judged by his actions as opposed to his e-mails.
In this e-mail, which Engler sent to Carol M. Viventi, the vice president and special counsel to the president, disparaging remarks were made by Engler about the first person to publicly accuse 54-year-old disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State physician Larry Nassar of sexual assault, Rachael Denhollander.
Engler accused Denhollander of likely receiving a "kickback" from her lawyer, John Manly. Manly is the lawyer for several of the people who have accused Nassar of sexual assault and are filing lawsuits as a result of it.
Denhollander took her story to The Indianapolis Star shortly before they published it in September of 2016, and Nassar was arrested roughly three months later after sexually assaulting over 300 of his patients under the guise of medical treatment for more than two decades.
Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison this past December on three child pornography charges, and he was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in state prison and between an additional 40 and 125 years in state prison on seven sexual assault charges and three sexual assault charges in January and February, respectively.
He is currently serving his 60-year federal prison sentences at United States Penitentiary, Tucson in Tucson, Arizona.
Engler took over as Michigan State's interim president following the resignation of Lou Anna Simon, who served as the university's president for more than 13 years before she resigned in late January in the wake of the Nassar scandal.
Here is what Engler's e-mail to Viventi said, according to Deadspin.
“It is deeply appreciated. At least we know what really happened. 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.
“It is too bad we can’t have a debate about who is really trying to help those who were harmed by Nassar. At least, all of the positive changes are beginning to get some modest attention. It will be years before the use and abuse by trial lawyers point is understood. Have a good Sunday. See you Tuesday morning. John.”
After he received tons of criticism, including calls for his resignation, from a lot of people, including lawmakers, Michigan State trustees and Denhollander herself, the former Michigan governor issued a statement about the matter. Here is what he had to say, according to ABC News.
"Whatever the tensions were before, we have successfully negotiated a settlement agreement -- something that is fair and equitable to both sides, and that both sides agreed to. We are now committed to continuing our efforts to strengthen sexual misconduct prevention on and off campus and to respond promptly to and appropriately if prevention fails.
"I am looking forward to the Board of Trustee meeting next week where we will continue our progress and efforts to move forward. I believe actions matter, and that is how the success of our work will be determined."
After 137 of the people who have accused Nassar of sexual assault signed a letter urging the Michigan State Board of Trustees to fire him, Engler issued a lengthy apology for making the disparaging marks that he made about Denhollander. You can read that apology in its entirety right here.
When the Michigan State Board of Trustees did not fire Engler, they were met with more criticism since their decision not to fire him was deemed as a bad one, especially since he waited more than a week from the time his e-mail was released until he apologized. Since apologizing, he has stated that he wants to be judged by his actions and not his e-mails.
Here is what he had to say about the matter, according to MLive.
"In my old job I could give as good as I could get and explain that sometimes somebody might say something that I might quite vigorously disagree with. Here I really am not in the position to comment.
"It's a difficult position to be in. I'm not used to being that restrained, and I'm trying to manage my way through that. But I don't allow it to distract me from doing the things that the university needs to have done.
"So I think, you know, what I want to do is just simply be judged on what we're actually doing. The rhetoric that surrounds this is tough, it's tough stuff to listen to. But it's a first amendment right. Universities, people aren't shy about speaking up. They're going to probably do that all while I'm here."
Brian Breslin, the Chairman of the Michigan State Board of Trustees, cited Engler's recent actions and leadership in regard to his approach to the aftermath of the Nassar scandal as reasons why he was not fired. Here is what Breslin had to say about the matter, according to Detroit Free Press.
“John’s apology for the comments contained in an April email that was released last week is appropriate and appreciated by a majority of the Board. The majority of the Board believes Interim President John Engler has played a significant leadership role developing our new approaches and has been a driving force in the rapid rollout of many of these reforms. He will continue to serve as Interim President until a new President is selected. John is not a candidate for the permanent position and has stated repeatedly that he wishes to depart as soon as the new President is chosen.”