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'We All Failed The Survivors' : MSU Interim President Tells Senate Committee

July 24, 2018 - 5:24 pm

WASHINGTON D.C. (WWJ) - Michigan State University Interim President John Engler in Washington Tuesday offering an apology to the victims of Larry Nassar.

Engler delivered a statement at the opening of a Senate committee investigating the university and US Olympics' handling of the Nassar sexual abuse complaints.

"The statements and testimony of survivors before your subcommittee and the courts have saddened all of us - our hearts go out to them and we are truly sorry that a former faculty member perpetrated these crimes through associations with MSU, USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and others. We all failed the survivors. 

Engler said the university has made changes to strengthen protocols for consent during medical exams and to require a chaperone in the rooms with minors. The same stipulation (to require another person in the room) was also in place during Nassar's tenure without oversight. 

Before the hearing, Olympic champions Aly Raisman and Jordyn Weiber took aim at USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic committee over the handling of complaints about Nassar's abuse.

"USA Gymnastics relieved Nassar of his duties by quietly allowing him to leave so that he could continue to abuse others, elsewhere. I was told by USA Gymnastics that if I spoke about Nassar I would jeopardize the FBI investigation," said Raisman. "USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee need to realize that they do not have a PR problem - they have a sexual abuse problem ... USA Gymnastics has chosen to allow many to resign, protecting their secrets and even rewarding some with financial payouts."

"The governing bodies whose job it was to protect us failed to do so, they perpetuated a culture of abuse, neglect, and win at all cost mentality which affected each survivor here today," said Olympic champion Weiber. 

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow was on hand outside the hearing -- saying survivors should be able to have more input in the committee's work.

Nassar earlier this year was sentenced to 40-125 years in prison for the sexual abuse of multiple young girls in the MSU and USA Gymnastics programs under the guise of treatment.