3 Nassar survivors: Trustee should resign

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Three sexual assault victims of former Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar called Wednesday for the resignation of university Trustee Dan Kelly over his role as an attorney who defended a Macomb County school district in lawsuits alleging sex abuse of children.

Rachael Denhollander, Lindsey Lemke and Kaylee Lorincz wrote to interim MSU President John Engler and said Kelly needs to leave the board over his handling of the cases.

“MSU Trustee Kelly is the worst person to lead the University forward from the Larry Nassar scandal,” Denhollander, Lemke and Lorincz wrote. “As a private attorney, Mr. Kelly built a career defending schools that ignored allegations of sexual assault against children.”

“MSU’s public statements in support of Larry Nasar’s survivors will continue to ring hollow as long as Dan Kelly remains on the Board. He should resign immediately.”

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Kelly, elected to an eight-year term that began Jan. 1, 2017, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

After a press conference on Wednesday, Engler said: “Actually they are calling for the resignation of all the trustees. They addressed that at the board meeting” Friday.

But the call for the board to resign did not come from Denhollander, Lemke and Lorincz. The MSU faculty senate cast a vote of no confidence in the board last week.

Nassar was incarcerated in a high-security federal prison this month after three judges handed him prison sentences for possessing 37,000 images of child pornography and committing first-degree criminal sexual conduct with nine girls.

Before he was sentenced for the sexual assault charges, more than 200 young women testified in two county courts that they had been victimized by Nassar over two decades while he was a physician for MSU and USA Gymnastics.

At the end of his criminal proceedings, Denhollander said their work was not done yet and they would turn their attention to MSU to address institutional dynamics that allowed Nassar to prey on girls for so long.

In a statement accompanying the letter to Engler, Denhollander, Lemke and Lorincz cited news reports that Kelly provided legal counsel for Warren Consolidated Schools in sex abuse civil cases.

They pointed to two cases in the early 2000s involving former district employees James Kearly and Roderick Reese.

In the case involving Kearly, three 8-year old girls accused him of molesting them.

The jury awarded the victims $2.1 million, the statement said.

According to Detroit News archives, Kearly, a former teacher at Siersma Elementary School, pleaded no contest to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges but denied touching the girls. Kelly represented the district in the federal suit, which was decided in December 2004.

In 2004, Kelly defended the Warren schools in the case of Reese, who was accused by 10 girls, ages 9-11, of groping their inner thighs, breasts and buttocks.

According to Detroit News archives, Reese, a former teacher, was charged in March 2004 and later pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

“Real change will only occur when the MSU community and the public at large has confidence that the leadership of MSU is truly committed to healing and change,” Denhollander, Lemke and Lorincz said in their letter to Engler.