(WJBK) - A survivor confronted the president of Michigan State University on Thursday as she faced reporters during a break in Larry Nassar's four-day sentencing hearing, asking for answers.
Thursday marked day three of a likely five-day sentencing hearing during which sexual abuse victims have the opportunity to share their stories.
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon was answering a question regarding $10 million dollar fund set up for the sexual abuse victims called the MSU Board of Trustees’ Healing Assistance Fund. The board set up the fund in December 2017.
According to a release, victim are able to receive reimbursement for counseling from whomever they choose. MSU selected the Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation Inc. (CMCI) and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) to help run the fund. Victims can contact these organizations for referrals via a 24-hour phone line. Fund administrators work directly with victims to answer questions on eligibility and help facilitate access.
Here is the exchange in full:
Reporter: "There's money that's been put aside for counseling for these girls?"
Reporter: "Have any of these girls been contacted yet?"
Simon: "I did not know until listening for the last two days the names of the victims."
Lindsey Lemke: "So you're telling me, currently on the Michigan State gymnastics team, or I was when I went public, you had no idea who I was. Kathy Klegas was coaching me and you didn't know?"
Simon: "What we've done with the victims fund is have that set up it's available to those heard ... through the MSU clinic through MSU students and others. The information for that fund is being given to people either through their attorneys if they are represented or through the activities of the victims assault the victims support unit."
Victim parent: "Who does my daughter contact?"
Simon: "The press release had two names but if you want your daughter to contact me, I'll take care of it."
Lindsey Lemke: "What about those of us who have already had counseling? This is now a year and half later that you're doing this."
Simon: "The counseling fund if you read the material that was released publically --"
Lindsey Lemke: "I would like to hear it from you."
Simon: "-- includes past expenses."
Hostility grows palpable against the university president as several women cite MSU as enablers to the abuse. Lemke addressed Simon during her opportunity to testify during the sentencing hearing.
“You’re a coward too. You say you aren’t responsible. I wish you would come up to this podium and be half as brave as all of us have had to be the past year and a half,” she said.
Another woman testifying Thursday said MSU’s response, or lack of response, compounded her pain.
"I am disgusted and outraged at the administration’s inability to take responsibility, for handing over young girls and women to Larry Nassar, a known sexual predator, for over 20 years," she said. "I might not be here talking to you today if msu would’ve listened and acted in an ethical and moral manner."
Others are calling for Simon to resign, including the editorial board of university newspaper The State News. Today's paper included a front page design: "President Simon, Resign" with images of the victims, along with a lengthy editorial. Two state representatives from the area are calling for her to step down as well.