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MSU approves bond for Nassar survivor settlement

Teal pinwheels adorn the lawn outside the Hannah Administration Building where the Board of Trustees meeting took place. Teal is the color of sexual assault survivors.
Cheyna Roth
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Teal pinwheels adorn the lawn outside the Hannah Administration Building where the Board of Trustees meeting took place. Teal is the color of sexual assault survivors.

Michigan State University will issue a bond to pay for a $500 million legal settlement. The school’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of the move Friday at a meeting.

Engler kicked off the meeting by reiterating his apology for emails that were made public last week. In them, Engler tells an aide that a Larry Nassar survivor might be getting a “kickback” by trial lawyers. Nassar is the former Michigan State University spokesperson who sexually assaulted his patients for years.

But an apology wasn’t good enough for Trustee Brian Mosallam. He asked that a vote for Engler’s termination be put on the agenda. But that failed.

John Engler
Credit Cheyna Roth
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John Engler.

Trustee Mitch Lyons said firing Engler would not help the school move forward as it looks for a new president because they need stability.

“Nobody in their right mind is walking into this hot mess right now,” he said.

The board then voted unanimously to pay for a proposed settlement with more than 300 survivors of Nassar by issuing a bond. The board says the university won’t use money from tuition or the state, rather the money will be paid back mainly through insurance, investments and interest. The also approved a tuition rate freeze for the 2019-2020 academic year and move into a block tuition structure.

The board also approved a three-year contract for former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young.

“He should have a lifetime appointment, he’s a terrific talent,” said Engler.

Young will act as the Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel. He’ll be paid $425,000 per year. Young was brought on to help deal with the investigations into the school.

One of those investigations into the school is being done by a special prosecutor appointed by the state Attorney General. Letters made public through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the special prosecutor, William Forsyth, and Young are currently in a dispute over whether the school needs to turn over certain documents. Forsyth says he needs those documents to fully investigate what the school knew about Nassar, but Young says they’re protected by attorney-client privilege.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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