Major question surrounds John Engler's claim about delayed apology
An e-mail that Engler sent to Carol M. Viventi, the vice president and special counsel to the president, back in mid-April was revealed last week, and in it, he claimed that Denhollander, who was the first person to publicly accuse disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State physician Larry Nassar of sexual assault, was likely receiving a "kickback" from her lawyer.
Denhollander's lawyer, John Manly, is the lawyer for several of the more than 300 people who have accused the 54-year-old Nassar of sexual assault. Nassar was finally arrested in December of 2016, which was roughly three months after The Indianapolis Star published Denhollander's account of Nassar's sexual assault, after sexually assaulting many of his patients under the guise of medical treatment for over two decades.
Nassar is currently serving the 60-year federal prison sentence that he was given this past December on three child pornography charges, and he is doing so at United States Penitentiary, Tucson in Tucson, Arizona.
Nassar was also sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in state prison on seven sexual assault charges in January, and he was sentenced to between an additional 40 and 125 years in state prison on three more sexual assault charges in February.
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.”
Engler, who took over as Michigan State's interim president after Lou Anna Simon resigned in late January in the wake of the Nassar scandal after serving as the university's president for more than 13 years, issued his apology, which you can read in its entirety right here, more than one week after this e-mail was revealed.
Engler issued his apology 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, and he apologized right before the Michigan State Board of Trustees decided that he would not be fired thanks to a 6-2 vote.
Here is what Engler had to say about why it took him more than one week from the time his e-mail to Viventi was revealed until he apologized for saying what he said about Denhollander, according to WXYZ Detroit.
“I was down in Texas and frankly wasn’t spending very much time talking to the office, you know. It took a while, got back here on campus, getting ready for the meeting.
"I was in Texas, and one of the things you do when you’re working with your wife and you haven’t seen her for a while, and you’re working on a home that you’re building, you pay attention.
“That was a private e-mail written back in April, right in the middle of these tensions, and I was completely frustrated, because I can’t say anything (at the time).”
However, the one major question that surrounds the claim made by the former Michigan governor is this: why did he release a non-apology statement about the matter several days before he issued his apology if he was too busy to apologize as a result of the fact that he was building a new home in Texas?
Engler issued this statement a few days after his disparaging remarks about Denhollander were revealed. He issued it after receiving tons of criticism, including calls for his resignation, from people including lawmakers, Michigan State trustees and several of those who have accused Nassar of sexual assault, including Denhollander herself, for making these remarks about her in his e-mail to Viventi.
Here is what Engler said in this statement, 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."
Again, why did Engler release this statement about moving forward if he was too busy to apologize as a result of the fact that he was building a new home in Texas?
The fact that Engler issued his apology right 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 and right before the Michigan State Board of Trustees decided against firing him makes this question one to truly ponder. Is his claim about why his apology was delayed legitimate?
Only Engler truly knows the answer to that question. Hopefully, for the sake of the hundreds of survivors of the Nassar scandal, he is telling the truth about it and his apology was sincere at least to the point where everyone can move forward and create the change that everyone wants to see at Michigan State and everywhere else in the world to ensure that nothing along the lines of what happened with Nassar happens ever again.