In July, Michigan State froze its $10 million Healing Assistance Fund, when its vendor said it had concerns over fraudulent claims. This week, MSU Interim President John Engler announced that the police are now investigating the fraud claims.
“It’s been moved from being an investigation to being an active police investigation,” said Engler, as reported by the Detroit News. “There will have to be changes. The level of fraud is such that we know that it cannot operate the way it did.”
The fund — which is separate from the $500 million settlement the university reached with survivors in May — was established in December to allow survivors to be reimbursed for counseling services.
Initially, survivors were told just to provide receipts and bank statements to the company overseeing the fund, Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation. However, Trinea Gonczar, a Nassar survivor, told Detroit News that a few months ago, the parameters for reimbursement have changed dramatically, without any warning.
Now, the university is punishing all survivors, many of whom relied on that fund in order to get therapy. Engler did not provide a timeline for reopening the fund.
“Many, many girls cannot go to counseling now,” said Gonczar. “Many girls started programs and now they can’t continue. Here again, MSU offers something, and then they take it away.”
Additionally, Mick Grewal, an attorney for some of the survivors, claims that the investigation into fraudulent claims has revictimized some of the survivors.
And both Grewal and John Manly, another lawyer for Nassar survivors, say that those investigating the claims of fraud have been calling up survivors’ mental health providers and demanding confidential information.
MSU’s “victims assistance fund”have begun calling Nassar survivors mental health providers and demanding confidential treatment info without waivers or seeking patient permission. The depravity, greed & sadism of John Engler and his misogynistic stooges knows no bounds.
— john manly (@johnmanly) September 4, 2018
Manly sees this as a way for Engler to continue to punish the survivors for coming forward. MSU said that it expects all privacy laws to be followed.
“As part of the investigation we have asked the vendor, Commonwealth, to provide documentation that they were making sure that folks meet the criteria set up for the fund…we are expecting and certainly hope that every privacy law, health care privacy and privacy laws are being followed in the collection of that information,” MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant said, as reported by Michigan Radio.