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DOCTOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

120 Nassar victims urge Michigan State board to fire Engler

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By ALICE YIN , Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A letter signed by 120 sexual abuse victims of former sports doctor Larry Nassar on Tuesday urged Michigan State University's governing board to oust interim president John Engler, saying he has reinforced a "culture of abuse" at the school.

The women and girls issued their joint statement three days before the board of trustees' next meeting and after a week in which demands for Engler's resignation reached a fever pitch.

Doctor Sexual Assault Michigan State
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2018, file photo, Larry Nassar appears for his sentencing at Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Mich. A letter signed by at least 120 victims sexual abuse by former sports doctor Nassar on Tuesday, June 19, urged Michigan State University’s governing board to oust interim president John Engler, saying he had reinforced a “culture of abuse” at the school. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)

Engler, who served as the state's Republican governor from 1991 through 2002, has resisted pressure to step down. He took over on an interim basis in February after the previous president resigned amid fallout from the Nassar scandal. Media outlets last week reported that he sent emailsto another university official in April criticizing lawyers for Nassar's sexual assault victims and suggesting the first woman to go public with her accusations was probably getting a "kickback" from her attorney.

Among those who signed the letter are Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Aly Raisman, and Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast who has been one of the most vocal critics of Engler.

In their lengthy written statement, the 120 "sister survivors" said they stand together against "character attacks" and that Engler "has only reinforced the culture of abuse at MSU." Current and future victims of sexual abuse "should know they can raise their voice without being characterized as pawns too foolish to know they are manipulated," they said.

"There is no debate: President Engler has failed miserably," they said in the letter. "Nothing at MSU - none of the mindsets that allowed Larry Nassar to abuse children for decades - have changed. Therefore, it is our position that MSU cannot move forward and become an institution of integrity and safety until John Engler is no longer president."

Two of the university's publicly elected trustees, Democrats Brian Mosallam and Dianne Byrum , have called for Engler to resign. A portion of the statement is directed at the six other trustees, four Republicans and two Democrats, asking them to "stand for what is right."

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"Unfortunately, and with great regret, John Engler's tenure as interim president has continued the bleeding rather than stem it," Mosallam said in a statement released Friday morning.

John Engler
FILE - In this March 15, 2018 file photo, Michigan State University's interim president John Engler speaks with reporters after appearing at a legislative hearing in Lansing, Mich. A letter signed by at least 120 victims sexual abuse by former sports doctor Larry Nassar on Tuesday, June 19, urged Michigan State University’s governing board to oust Engler, saying he had reinforced a “culture of abuse” at the school. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

Trustees hired Engler after Lou Anna Simon resigned in January over the Nassar scandal. Nassar was fired from Michigan State in 2016, two years after he became the subject of a sexual assault investigation.

Under Engler's tenure, Michigan State has agreed to a $500 million settlement with 332 women and girls who said they were sexually assaulted by Nassar, a former campus sports doctor who also worked with the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Nassar now is in prison. Of that, $75 million will cover future claims.

"We stood against our abuser. We stood against an abusive culture. Now we are asking you to stand against it too and lead MSU forward into real change," the letter said in its conclusion.

Larry Nassar's judge was not amused by him complaining about hearing victims

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