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Lawmakers respond to MSU proposed settlement with Nassar survivors

Michigan State University
John M. Quick
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

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 settlement.

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

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 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 the 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. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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