Following his resignation as interim president of Michigan State University, John Engler and his attorney, Seth B. Waxman, sent a letter to the office of the Attorney General Dana Nessel detailing the biases of the office against Engler in their investigation of Larry Nassar, according to a Detroit Free Press report.
Engler’s resignation resulted from a series of comments to The Detroit News stating that survivors of sexual assault in the Nassar case were “enjoying that moment at times.”
Following his resignation, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees named Satish Udpa, the school’s executive vice president for administrative services, interim president of the university.
The letter, sent Tuesday, said the office approached the investigation and the questioning of Engler with predetermined biases.
“What has become clear is the ethical standards and objectivity required for the conduct of an investigation are inapplicable to your approach to Mr. Engler,” Waxman said in the letter. “You have prejudged Mr. Engler’s veracity and motives without ever talking to him.”
The letter also cited bias in the investigation by the lack of experience in criminal prosecutions with Assistant Attorney General Christina Grossi, who is conducting the Nassar investigation for Attorney General Dana Nessel.
“Your conduct diverges so drastically from the most basic principles of fairness, justice and what is right that you have undermined the integrity of your own investigation, which may be a result of your lack of experience handling criminal prosecutions (this being your first), let alone a high-profile criminal investigation,” Waxman said in the letter. “Your actions also form a claim of prosecutorial misconduct and constitute grounds for your immediate recusal from the investigation.”
Waxman’s letter is a response to Nessel’s letter sent Tuesday morning accusing Engler of dodging investigators while criticizing him for attending MSU basketball games, according to another Detroit Free Press report.
According to Nessel’s letter, obtained by the Detroit Free Press through a Freedom of Information Act request, Engler’s negligence towards investigators sends a negative message to Nassar survivors.
“In addition to our concern that Mr. Engler might be attempting to manipulate the forum of his interview to insulate himself from the repercussions of it, I am equally concerned about the message this sends to both the (Larry) Nassar survivors and the community-at-large,” Nessel said in her letter. "We must lead from the top. The reluctance of the former interim president of the University to cooperatively participate in a law enforcement investigation into the largest sexual assault scandal in the history of higher education — yet happily sit court-side to watch the men's basketball team on multiple occasions — speaks volumes about allegations of a culture of indifference on campus."
According to Waxman, there is no reason that Engler should not be allowed to attend the basketball games, and Nessel’s criticisms are not appropriate.
“There has been no effort to hide that on two occasions Mr. Engler traveled to Michigan on weekends to see Michigan State University basketball games,” Waxman said in the letter. “Yet, you scurrilously allege that Mr. Engler somehow acted improperly by attending those events, as if he attended in disguise. He is not a criminal defendant. He is not under the supervision of a court. You penalize and criticize Mr. Engler for exercising his unrestricted right to travel and, as do hundreds of millions of Americans, enjoy college basketball games.”
Waxman’s letter states that unless Gross is removed from the investigation, Engler will not participate in a voluntary interview with investigators.
“Accordingly, unless and until you are properly recused from the case and in no way connected to the investigation as a whole in any manner, I have advised Mr. Engler to decline to participate in a voluntary interview with your office.”
When asked for comment, Michigan State University referred The Daily to a statement made from Dianne Byrum, MSU Board of Trustees chair. In the statement, Byrum said she agrees with Nessel’s position that Engler should honor the investigation interview request.
“Until receiving this letter, I was unaware that the Attorney General’s Office had been unable to secure a meeting with former Interim President John Engler,” Byrum said in the statement. “I agree with the AG’s position that Engler should honor the request to meet and cooperate fully. The board will review Engler’s contract and determine what actions on our part will help facilitate an interview.”