Engler Aide: Nassar Victim’s Allegations Of Coerced Payout Attempt Are ‘Fake News’
In an internal email obtained by the Detroit Free Press Wednesday morning, an adviser to MSU Interim President John Engler criticized survivors of Nassar, saying they are willing to make outlandish claims to raise settlement values.
Carol Viventi, MSU vice president and special counsel to the interim president, also called accusations by a Nassar victim that interim president John Engler offered her a quarter-million dollar settlement in a coercion attempt as "fake news".
In the email Viventi writes in part:
"Kaylee's statements to the Board contained many false and inaccurate statements, which we did not publicly contradict out of an abundance of concern for the survivors who are quick to claim 'revictimization' or 'shaming' of survivors whenever they are falsely accusing members of the MSU community,"
"Kaylee" in the email refers to Kaylee Lorincz, who was the survivor who accused Engler at a board of trustees meeting of offering her a settlement with an audience of her mother and special counsel Viventi, the author of the above email. In the meeting Lorincz accused Engler of "bullying her".
Viventi's email was written with the intention of "setting the record straight" about the meeting between Lorincz, Engler and co.
MSU Spokeswoman Emily Guerrant claims to have been in the meeting and says her interpretation had been that Engler wasn't directly offering a settlement but engaging in a “philosophical discussion” about what amount would be acceptable.
Reports from when Lorincz spoke at the board of trustees meeting do not say the Guerrant was present for the meeting.
Later in the email Viventi warns that the board of trustees should not give credence to senesational headlines:
"What members of the board say in public can, however unwittingly, advance the plaintiffs' goals and injure the university. When, as here, it is possible to verify whether public assertions made by plaintiffs are true, there should never be a statement in the press by board members that gives credibility to sensational headlines or what can best be described as "false news."
Lorincz's attorney, John Manly, responded to the Detroit Free Press after their first edition of the story ran with this:
"Ms. Viventi is not only dishonest but her attitude toward the victims is emblematic of the moral sickness that plagues MSU. The fact she is John Engler’s handpicked advisor is very telling. Any reasonable observer has to conclude Engler and Viventi loathe the survivors. The Board should terminate both of them immediately. But they won’t because most of the Board secretly loathes these women too.”
Some members of the board thanked Viventi in responses to her email for explaining Engler's side of the story, others voiced their own concerns.
Mitch Lyons said "I wish the president had refuted her claims immediately instead of letting the Perry Mason moment occur in the board meeting, his silence was deafening."
Brian Mosallam was more scathing with his remarks:
"This board has a fiduciary obligation to care for this university. Our fiduciary obligation is more than a question of what is legal but includes our judgment of what is in MSU's best interests, morally and ethically. I find this administration's conduct unacceptable.
"At no time did this board authorize this administration to interact directly with our courageous survivors or their families. It is important to remember as officers of this university, this administration, including the Interim President, (spokeswoman) Emily Guerrant and yourself all work for us until we decide otherwise.
"It is imperative that every action a representative of this university takes is a reflection of the standard of ethics that we demand of our students, faculty, staff and ourselves."