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Alleged Nassar victim: MSU president’s apology “heartless and empty”

Kate Wells
Michigan Radio
Some of the women who've alleged Larry Nassar sexually assaulted them. From left: Christine Harrison, Larissa Boyce, Jessica Smith, and Alexis Alvarado

Today the Michigan State University Board of Trustees gave President Lou Anna Simon a raise. She donated that $150,000 to a scholarship fund.

Top leaders at Michigan State University, including Simon, also offered apologies to women who say they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, the former MSU sports doctor. They also created a $10 million fund to pay for counseling and other services.

Jessica Smith is one of the 125 women and girls who say Nassar sexually assaulted them. She was at the MSU Board of Trustees meeting earlier today, and joined us on Stateside afterward.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.

Smith's take on the apology President Simon gave during the meeting

"I think that her apology was maybe a nice thought to her. However, to me it sounded like a statement that simply said that she’s sorry that this happened to me. Not sorry that it happened under her watch or she’s so sorry that she allowed this to happen. To me it really felt like a heartless and empty apology, and something that sounds nice.”

Smith's take on how the board praised Simon's leadership abilities at MSU as the reason for her raise

“Yeah, you know, they said things like, ‘She is a tremendous leader,’ and, ‘We’re so confident in her leadership,’ you know, which, of course, makes me question what confidence means to them. 

"But, it frankly feels insulting. It’s hard to feel like it wasn’t intentional that they did that while there’s protesters in the room – students in the room who are speaking out against what’s happening.

"And I spoke today, addressed the board, and one thing that I actually corrected President Simon in was that she calls us ‘accusers’ and we are not accusers, we are survivors and victims of Nassar. And, you know, it just shows me that she’s not thinking about how she’s affecting us. No one who really, truly cares would use that kind of word any longer now that Nassar has admitted guilt.

"And it’s hard to know that such a large institution that has so much power has someone like that as the president.... I think MSU could do much better.”

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Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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