John Engler

USA Today

Come On, Michigan State

The Nassar survivors are incredible.

January 16, 2019 - 12:31 pm
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So here’s a topic I never wanted to talk about again: Larry Nassar. You remember Larry Nassar, right? The absolute monster who used his position as a doctor for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics to sexually assault hundreds of people.

Well, he’s back in the news. Actually, he’s not back in the news. Michigan State Interim President John Engler is back in the news and for all the wrong reasons.

Engler took over last year after the previous president, Lou Anna Simon, resigned in disgrace hours after Nassar was sentenced. And Engler has seemed to go out of his way to do everything he could to make sure he goes out in disgrace as well.

Here are a few of the highlights from the Detroit Free Press:

- There was the move to cancel a $10 million healing fund for counseling for Nassar survivors

-There was Engler’s accusation that the first survivor to come forward was getting kickbacks from attorneys.

-There was another Nassar survivor who said that Engler offered her $250,000 to drop her lawsuit.

The list goes on, but I’ll fast forward to the latest, which was when Engler told the Detroit News last week that there are some Nassar survivors “who’ve been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition.”

I’m sorry, did this guy just say that some people who were sexually assaulted by a convicted pedophile are “enjoying” the spotlight and “you know, the awards and recognition.” In a world of terrible takes, that might be the worst ever.

Seriously.

You’re talking about women who needed medical attention and were sexually assaulted by the doctor who was supposed to provide it, and they are “enjoying” the spotlight? What the hell is wrong with you?

And this is coming from a guy who claimed when he took over that he would lead the school as “if my own daughter were on this campus." Thanks for nothing, loser.

But don’t take it from me. Ask Rachel Denhollander, the first survivor to come forward. She tweeted: “Engler references survivors enjoying their time in the spotlight. You mean, like having to change the day I grocery shop so my 3 kids don't see a photo of their mom demonstrating what was done to her body? Tell me more about how enjoyable this spotlight is.”

Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say that nobody was looking to be in that spotlight and absolute nobody is enjoying “you know, the awards and recognition.”

When you say that, you’re really telling on yourself. You’re really saying that you enjoy awards and recognition, that it would be something that motivates you to do something.

This is an interim school president who followed a school president who mismanaged the situation and then claimed that it was politicized, and you somehow managed to make it worse. It takes a lot of work to see what Lou Anna Simon did and then come close to being as terrible at this as her, and if not worse.

No wonder news broke this morning that the Michigan State University Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow morning to debate his future. I’m going to go ahead and say that should be a very short debate. And no wonder one member of the board declared: "John Engler's reign of terror is over. Michigan State University will be returned to its people."

My only question is: what took so long?

But let’s not make this about Engler. Don’t get me wrong. Engler being fired or forced to resign is a great thing. It shouldn’t happen tomorrow, it should’ve happened a long time ago.

And let’s learn from what he did and how he handled it and never repeat those mistakes again.

But Engler is not the story here. If you want to remember something from this whole story, it’s the survivors.

Remember the 168 individuals who gave impact statements at Nassar’s trial. Remember their families. Remember the ones who have not yet come forward and their families as well.

The Nassar survivors are incredible. They did not seek out the spotlight. They knew that they would be in the spotlight and that it would be painful and ugly, but they did it anyway because they wanted to make sure that a monster got the justice that he deserves.

The pain that they have suffered and the courage that they showed will endure.