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Days after a settlement was reached with more than 300 accusers of Larry Nassar, Michigan State University’s interim president announced Monday that he was appointing the chief negotiator of the agreement to a permanent post at the university.

 

Robert Young, a longtime ally of John Engler and former Michigan Supreme Court justice, will be vice president and general counsel, effective June 1.

He will replace Kristine Zayko, who has been serving as MSU’s acting general counsel but announced earlier this month she was stepping down.

“Bob did a tremendous job representing MSU during the recent mediation and achieving an equitable outcome for all,” Engler said. “As the university moves forward, we will draw on his prior appellate judicial experience as well as his time in private practice, where he served as a general counsel for one of Michigan’s leading companies. His leadership and expertise will be a great asset to the MSU legal team.”

Young represented MSU in a historic $500 million settlement reached last week between more than 300 women and girls who accused the university of not protecting them against Nassar, a former MSU doctor who molested them for decades under the guise of a medical treatment.

Young’s salary in his permanent post at MSU was not immediately made public, as in Engler’s previous appointments.

But in his post as the lead counsel overseeing the multiple investigations and Title IX complaints at MSU, Young offered the university a 10 percent discount on his $640 hourly fee. He was appointed in February by Engler, who took over amidst the fallout of Nassar.

Soon after his appointment, critics pointed to Young’s record on sexual assault cases while serving as a Michigan Supreme Court justice for two decades, saying his leadership role sent the wrong message as MSU is working to change its culture.

 At the time, MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said that Young’s judicial, higher education and advocacy experience made him the right person to navigate the university through a tumultuous period.

But John Manly, who represented most of the women in the lawsuits, said that after mediation he wishes he could say that Young has grown and has a deeper understanding of sexual assault since his time on the state’s high court. Manly said Young still “fundamentally misunderstands the dynamics of sexual abuse and sexual assault as he continues to see these victims as MSU’s adversaries.”

Manly also criticized Young for revealing details of the confidential mediation to the media, saying that everyone else has abided by the agreement to not air the sessions in public.

MSU officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

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