Editor's note: Vanguard President and CEO TJ Bucholz comments on John Engler's handling of the Larry Nassar case.
More than 120 women who say they were sexually abused by former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar are demanding the ouster of the school's interim president — who has been taking flak since the revelation of an email in which he insulted the survivors.
Engler's most controversial misstep may have been an email he wrote to another college official on April 15, which was obtained by the Chronicle of Higher Education through a freedom of information request and disclosed last week. It portrayed outspoken accusers as pawns of money-hungry attorneys.
"The survivors now are being manipulated by trial lawyers who in the end will each get millions of dollars more than any of [sic] individual survivors with the exception of Denhollander who is likely to get [sic] kickback from Manley [sic] for her role in the trial lawyer manipulation."
That was a reference to Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go public with accusations against Nassar — a sports-medicine doctor who treated Olympic gymnasts — triggering the biggest sex-abuse scandal in the history of athletics.
After the email became public, any relief or gratitude that Engler had helped negotiate a $500 million settlement for Nassar victims began to evaporate.
T.J. Bucholz, a public relations consultant who once worked in Engler's administration, said the mistake the ex-governor and other university officials made was that after Simon was booted, they focused on short-term financial issues instead of listening to students and beginning the long-term process of healing the campus and rebuilding reputations.
He said it's a mystery why Engler — knowing that news outlets have been seeking and obtaining emails through freedom of information requests — would make such an inflammatory comment in print. But, he said, don't expect an apology.
"If you expect contrition from John Engler, you are not going to get it," he said.
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