Rachael Denhollander, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s first sexual abuse victim to publicly come forward about her assault, criticized Michigan State University’s appointment of a lawyer who has defended the school in sexual assault lawsuits as its new civil rights and Title IX coordinator.
Robert Kent was announced as interim head of MSU’s Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance on June 18 after representing the school since 2014, reported the Detroit Free Press. Kent was appointed by the university’s interim president, John Engler, who came under fire for a writing an email that disparaged victims of former MSU employee and convicted sexual abuser Nassar.
Denhollander condemned Kent’s appointment on Twitter.
“I’m truly laughing so hard I’m crying,” she wrote. “MSU says the atty [sic] who DEFENDED them against Title IX sexual abuse violations is perfect to head up investigating said violations, because his past expertise with these policies is helpful. Can’t make this stuff up.”
I’m truly laughing so hard I’m crying. MSU says the atty who DEFENDED them against Title IX sexual abuse violations is perfect to head up investigating said violations, because his past expertise with these policies is helpful. Can’t make this stuff up. https://t.co/NsZrFY6ywn
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) June 29, 2018
Kent is “responsible for the departments that investigate civil rights and Title IX complaints and that are responsible for prevention, education and outreach efforts,” according to the MSU press release. (RELATED: Nassar Victims Praise Michigan Gubernatorial Candidate In Campaign Ad)
“He was instrumental in establishing the University Policy on Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct as well as working with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights during their reviews of MSU’s handling of sexual assault cases,” the release stated.
In order to take the new position, Kent withdrew from representing university officials in three lawsuits from women who claim they were sexually assaulted, reported the Detroit Free Press.
One of the lawsuits was filed in April by a woman accusing MSU counselors of advising her not to report that she was allegedly raped by three basketball players.
Kent also helped write a university response to the lawsuit. The response included the woman’s counseling center history and might have violated a federal student privacy law, jeopardizing grant funding for MSU’s sexual assault counseling services, reported the Detroit Free Press.
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