EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State's trustees offered a vocal and financial vote of support for embattled university president Lou Anna Simon on Friday morning in a boardroom that was filled to capacity by several dozen protesters.
The board announced the creation of a $10 million fund that will be used for counseling and mental health services as a way "to express our concern for and commitment to (the) brave young women" who spoke out against Dr. Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State employee and serial sexual abuser. Several trustees commended Simon for her leadership in handling the fallout from Nassar's case during the past year.
The board also approved a $150,000 raise for Simon, which she requested be added to a scholarship fund rather than her paycheck.
Lisa Lorincz -- the mother of 18-year-old Kaylee Lorincz, who says Nassar started abusing her several years ago -- told the board of trustees that the timing of Simon's pay bump was "insulting."
The raise comes shortly after state politicians and many women who say Nassar sexually abused them called for Simon to resign or be fired. The president is among several high-ranking officials from Michigan State and USA Gymnastics who are listed as defendants in civil lawsuits that allege they knew or should have known that a school physician was preying on girls and young women in Michigan for decades.
Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct last month in state court. He was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison last week on charges of possession of child pornography. Nassar admitted in November that he used his power as a doctor in the gymnastics community to abuse girls -- some younger than 13 years old -- when they came to him seeking medical help.
More than 140 women have joined the civil lawsuits that claim others ignored warning signs that could have put a stop to Nassar's abuse as early as 1997.
Simon addressed the women who have spoken out about Nassar during Friday's meeting and said she and the board of trustees have made changes in the way sexual assault allegations are reported and handled.
"I am truly sorry for the abuse you suffered, the pain it caused and the pain it continues to cause today," Simon said. "I am sorry a physician who called himself a Spartan so utterly betrayed your trust and everything this university stands for."
Three of the women who have accused Nassar of wrongdoing and one of their mothers addressed the board of trustees to ask that they increase their efforts and the transparency with which the university reviews its handling of Nassar. Others demanded that the university make a public report about what it has found while reviewing how it responded to allegations against Nassar.
The university hired former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in February to guide its internal review of how Nassar was able to continue his misconduct as a university employee for nearly 20 years. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette asked the university last week to share it findings with his office so they could determine if anyone at Michigan State should be held accountable for enabling Nassar.
Fitzgerald told Schuette's office that he could not produce a report because no written report exists, but he'd be willing to have a general discussion with the attorney general about what his probe has discovered. In Fitzgerald's response, he said he did not believe anyone at Michigan State knew Nassar was engaged in criminal behavior before he was publicly accused in 2016.
It's not clear if the attorney general's office intends to pursue a criminal investigation of anyone at Michigan State other than Nassar.
Several of the trustees at Friday's meeting adamantly denied that the university was attempting to cover up any wrongdoing.
"For anyone to think that any of those trustees is worried about protecting the brand or the institution over someone's daughter is ludicrous," said trustee Brian Mosallam. "Have comfort that I hear you, and we're watching."
Lorincz told the trustees that they weren't doing enough. She asked that the trustees show the public the materials they reviewed in determining no one else at the school was culpable. She said no one at the university has contacted her or her daughter in an effort to find out more about what happened, and she told Simon that she would like to be a resource as Michigan State continues to review ways it can improve how it handles sexual assault.
Simon closed the meeting by telling Lorincz that she "may just take you up on your offer."