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Lawmakers Respond To MSU Proposed Settlement With Nassar Survivors

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Reginald Hardwick

Lawmakers in Lansing say a settlement between Michigan State University and survivors of Larry Nassar doesn’t mean their quest for justice is over. 

Nassar is the former university sports doctor who sexually assaulted his patients under the guise of treatment. More than 300 survivors are suing the school for not stopping him, and MSU faces a potential 500 million dollar settlement.

In the Legislature, lawmakers have crafted more than 30 bills in response to what Nassar did.

I would tell John Engler, You are no longer governor, John. Go find your money from MSU, not from us - State Sen. Rick Jones

Senator Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) has spearheaded the effort in the Senate. Some of those bills – like getting rid of protections against lawsuits for entities like MSU – have been controversial, but O’Brien says she’s not giving up the fight.

“These bills were never about Larry Nassar or Michigan State, they were about eradicating childhood sexual abuse, so any of the legislators or outside people who are suggesting it should be stopped, maybe they haven’t been listening,” she said.

When it comes to paying for the potential 500 million dollar bill, Michigan State University might not get help from the state. Half a billion dollars is a big ask, and insurance may not cover it all. MSU is a public university, so one option could be to go through the Legislature and get help from taxpayer dollars.

But lawmakers have expressed discomfort with this idea.

“I would tell John Engler, ‘You’re no longer governor, John. Go find your money from MSU, not from us. Not from taxpayers,’” said Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge).

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) also isn’t on board.

“I don’t know how a university with a larger rainy day fund than what we have could ask us to chip in especially when they created the problem,” he said.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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