Column: Attorney general should ignore critics

Rick Jones

The sexual assault scandal at Michigan State University involving Larry Nassar deserves a thorough, unvarnished investigation. The survivors and Michigan citizens need answers about how Nassar’s pattern of abuse was allowed to occur for so many years, and whether university employees and administrators have criminal responsibility for aiding and abetting or covering up his assaults.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has launched an investigation to find those answers and has built a legal all-star team to do so.

The investigation is being led by one of Michigan’s most esteemed prosecutors and the respected Michigan State Police. Bill Forsyth, the former Kent County prosecutor directing the MSU investigation, is widely respected by Democrats and Republicans alike as a man with impeccable character, integrity and prosecutorial acumen. He is an excellent choice.

Some politicians have sadly decided to use this tragedy as a self-serving opportunity to score political points. In my experience as a former county sheriff, those interfering with law enforcement investigations are not doing it for the common good. This smear campaign against our law enforcement officials is creating unnecessary distractions at a time when responsible leaders in Michigan should be focused on putting the interests of the survivors first.

Fortunately, that’s what Schuette and his team are doing. Schuette’s office led the prosecution of Nassar that resulted in a prison sentence of 40-125 years. Moreover, by insisting that the survivors were allowed to deliver statements in court, the attorney general’s office helped create a cultural moment that has elevated the importance of combatting sexual assault in our state and across nation.

The courage displayed by the young women telling their stories captivated the attention of the world. These strong women not only changed MSU forever, they are changing the way the world views the sexual abuse of women and the steps we must take to protect our families.

In a year where #MeToo became part of our national lexicon, these strong survivors helped crystalize the horrors of sexual assault, and their voices were heard in part because of the prosecutorial diligence of the attorney general’s office led by Schuette.

That is why it is vital that the attorney general keep charging forward in spite of his critics. Too much is at stake.

For example, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who is competing against Schuette in the gubernatorial primary, has repeatedly tried to cast aspersions on the MSU investigation. For Calley, or leading Democrats also piling on, to suggest that Schuette or the professionals in the attorney general’s office and state police are motivated by anything except finding justice represents the very worst of politics.

Schuette and the legal professionals he has empowered to lead the MSU investigation are doing their jobs by searching for the truth led by facts and working to hold those responsible for these tragedies accountable to Michigan law.

They deserve our support as they work on the behalf of the survivors and justice.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, represents Michigan’s 24th Senate district.