Interim Michigan State president John Engler sat down recently with the Detroit News, answering how long he expects to stay in charge of the university (just until next year, he hopes); responding to the woman who says he offered her a check to drop her lawsuit related to sexual abuse by Larry Nassar; and how Nassar’s decades of sexual abuse, as well as sexual misconduct by Nassar’s boss, William Strampel, were allowed to continue at MSU.
To that, Engler said that part of the reason that Nassar was able to abuse women, for decades, under the false guise of medical treatment was that the MSU administration was “very diffuse and disorganized.” From the News report:
Or more simply put, no one was clearly in charge of anything, making it harder to determine who bore the responsibility for the Nassar mess.
“This is a different kind of organization,” Engler says. “Everyone thought they reported directly to me. Not having an institutional history here, it is not a structure that I was comfortable with.”
Engler describes it, sarcastically, as “a great system. Everybody thinks they are empowered to say yes, but nobody is empowered to say no.”
As much as anything, in Engler’s view, the lack of a hierarchy of leadership enabled Nassar to get away with his evil work.
“When you don’t have strong processes it undermines your ability to have strong accountability,” he says.
Engler also said that he hasn’t found evidence of a cover up. He added that the rules of the tenure system were why Strampel still hasn’t been fired and is still getting paid his annual salary of $217,000. When asked about when Kaylee Lorincz said he offered her a check for $250,000 to drop her lawsuit related to abuse by Nassar, Engler said, “We have different memories of what happened.”
A fuller answer from Engler on that question is in the video posted with the News story. A transcription of it is below:
“That meeting was one, and I’ve had many meetings with people who’ve been victims of Nassar’s crimes, talked to their parents. This young woman chose to offer a version. And we had my counsel, Carol, is a lawyer, she doesn’t represent the university, and Emily, the university spokeswoman, were all in the room. Just our memories are different than hers. That’s all I’ve said. I don’t talk about those meetings. And I think we made it clear. Carol was criticized for something she said to the trustees ...
(Engler and the interviwer then briefly talk over eachother)
“Look, we’ve got a young woman who’s suffered a lot. We understand that. That’s traumatizing. And I think she’s still trying to work through all of that. And just how she remembered this meeting was very different than those of us who were there.”