LANSING (AP) — Interim Michigan State University President John Engler said Friday that he regrets the school’s response to a woman filing a federal rape lawsuit against the university.
Engler said the school “provided an unnecessary amount of detail” when issuing a statement and acknowledged that some people saw it as “violating privacy expectations.” Engler’s remarks Friday unfolded during a university board meeting that was brimming with protesters, parents and sexual assault survivors of disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar.
The lawsuit involves a woman who says the university’s counselors discouraged her from filing a police report after three Michigan State basketball players allegedly raped her in 2015. The lawsuit accuses the school of violating Title IX protocol and claims staff made it clear that “she faced an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention” should she report her rape.
The federal lawsuit is the latest development in a scandal rocking the university, which is being investigated for failing to stop Nassar from molesting female patients.
Engler became interim president after Lou Anna Simon resigned in January hours after Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison for crimes involving Michigan State athletes. Students remain anxious over the future course of the university, which has yet to choose a permanent replacement for Simon.
Engler attempted to steer focus in Friday’s board meeting toward celebrating milestones of the university’s graduating seniors but was frequently usurped by boos and jeers from a crowd clad in teal shirts with the phrase, “I stand with the sister survivors #MeTooMSU.” Some Nassar victims were in attendance.
Engler also proposed a 2.97 percent tuition increase, the third lowest in 20 years. Earlier he teased the possibility of heavy tuition increases should the school’s lawsuits over the Nassar controversy continue to snowball.
“What a vile man you are,” student Dan Martel, a member of the grass-roots Reclaim MSU movement, said. “To direct the anger cast by students for higher tuition rates on survivors of the worst sexual assault scandal in MSU history.”
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