Interim MSU President John Engler says Larry Nassar victims are 'enjoying' the 'spotlight'

Former Michigan Governor John Engler. - Wikipedia Creative Commons (
Wikipedia Creative Commons (
Former Michigan Governor John Engler.

Michigan State University Interim President and former GOP Michigan governor John Engler is facing backlash for saying that some Larry Nassar sexual assault victims are enjoying the attention.

Engler made the statement to The Detroit News editorial board on Friday, though The News piece didn't focus on the comments.

"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 told The News. "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."

On Saturday, an Engler spokesperson told The News that the comment was "ill-advised."

Notably, this isn't the first time that Engler has attacked victims of sexual assault. Last year he accused a Nassar victim of taking kickbacks from a trial attorney. As governor, Engler fought hard against a lawsuit brought by hundreds of female inmates who had been raped by state corrections officers. Despite Engler's efforts, it ended in what at the time was the largest payout in state history.

In a statement to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dianne Byrum, chairwoman of the MSU Board of Trustees, criticized Engler’s comments: “His remarks were ill advised and not helpful to the healing process, survivors, or the university."

In a Saturday tweet, she added, "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."

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