Engler to testify before Congress over Nassar scandal

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News
MSU Interim President John Engler listens to public statements, some of them calling for his ouster, during an Action Meeting of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees in the Hannah Administration Building, Friday morning, June 22, 2018.

Michigan State University Interim President John Engler will testify this month before a congressional panel as investigations continue in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.

MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant confirmed Thursday that Engler has been asked to testify before the same Senate subcommittee former President Lou Anna Simon was questioned by in early June. 

Engler is scheduled to testify at 2:30 p.m. July 24 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation's subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, Guerrant said. 

"The subcommittee is calling the presentation 'Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions,'" Guerrant said.

Engler was at the helm of the university when it recently reached a $500 million settlement with more than 300 accusers of Nassar, a former sports doctor for MSU and USA Gymnastics who sexually abused young women for decades under the guise of a medical treatment.

Engler also has orchestrated numerous changes to ensure that the university is compliant and has safeguards in place so there can never be another Nassar scandal.

But Engler also has been a lightning rod at Michigan State since he took over after Simon resigned at the height of the scandal in January. Several top Michigan politicians called for his resignation last month, including two MSU trustees, but there were not enough votes on the eight-member board to fire him.

During the hearing before the Senate Commerce subcommittee in June, Simon spoke publicly for the first time about what she knew about Nassar.

Simon told The Detroit News in January that she was informed in 2014 of a Title IX complaint against an unnamed sports medicine doctor, but that she did not receive a copy of the report.

She also did not ask for a copy, she said under questioning by lawmakers, because she did not "normally see any Title IX report, particularly one with no finding."

Simon also said the Title IX investigation cited MSU medical experts and Nassar colleagues who opined that the procedure used by Nassar — which did not involve penetration in that case — was "legitimate." 

Simon was also asked by the committee about a March meeting Engler had with Kaylee Lorincz — a defendant in litigation at the time against MSU — without her lawyer present. 

Lorincz publicly accused Engler of secretly trying to settle with her for $250,000 but Engler said she misunderstood the conversation. 

The Senate Commerce subcommittee also interviewed former USA Gymnastics senior Vice President Rhonda Faehn and USA Gymnastics President and CEO Steve Penny, who refused to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

In April, congressional leaders also heard from Olympic athletes, including Nassar victims Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher, during a hearing on abuse of athletes and the systems that failed to protect them. 

Nassar is essentially serving a life sentence in an Arizona federal prison after admitting to criminal sexual conduct and possessing child pornography.

Meanwhile, in Lansing, a pretrial hearing was scheduled for Larry Nassar's ex-boss, William Strampel. Last month, a judge bound Strampel over for trial on sex-related charges.

Strampel's attorney, John Dakmak, and William Rollstin, a prosecutor with the Michigan Attorney General's office, met in the chambers of Ingham County Judge Joyce Draganchuk, ostensibly to set a timeline for a trial.

But afterward, both attorneys said no dates have been set. Both expected to file motions that would be argued in court before a trial date is set.

"We don't know if it's going to be at the end of this year or early next year," Dakmak said. 


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