What you need to know about former Michigan State University football coach George Perles
Laura Mazade and Eric Lacy, Lansing State Journal

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel examines the circumstances surrounding the retirement of George Pearls from Michigan State University's board of directors, particularly if a debt that Pearls owed to the university had been raised in exchange for his early retirement.

At the same time, his office is seeking an interview with the former acting president of the MSU, John Engler. At a press conference on Thursday, Nessel again urged the school to hand over thousands of documents she refuses to hand over to investigators, saying the documents are protected by professional secrecy.

"The time has now come for MSU to do what is right," she said, recalling that her predecessor had stated that MSU was more concerned with protecting its brand and image than making the necessary changes. .

Nessel said that she had asked to interview Engler several weeks ago and that she was working with her private lawyer to schedule the conversation. She said that she hoped not to have to subpeona Engler.

"We have not ruled out anything, but we sincerely hope: he has become interim president, and when you do, you assume the responsibility of being open."

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This meeting was Nessel's first since his arrival at the post of Attorney General Bill Schuette, who had launched the initial investigation.

The Free Press reported in January that Perles had resigned in December, earlier than expected, in return for a $ 200,000 debt he owed to the school being liquidated.

The decision cleared the balance of Pearls, the school's former sports director, on a $ 500,000 pledge to the school, according to private donations by Free Press. The commitment was to cover half the cost of a $ 1 million seat in front of the school's football building. He is named for Pearls and his wife.

The directive to zero the balance of Pearls came from the office of Engler, told Free Press several sources employed within the administration of Engler. They spoke under the guise of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to the media.

George Perles, former member of the MSU Board of Directors (Photo11: Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal)

In his statement of resignation, Pearls said his poor health – he had been suffering from Parkinson's for years – had played a major role in his decision to resign. But others said the debt had been cleared to encourage Pearls to retire earlier so that Engler supporters could convince the government of the day. Rick Snyder will appoint a pro-Engler board member to replace Pearls. The move turned against him when Snyder chose someone who had no connection with Engler or any other board member.

MSU denied this. Instead, the university said the debt had been cleared earlier in 2018.

"According to the records of our university, the Pearls account would have been closed in May 2018. At that time, we were no longer expecting contributions and we were not planning to ask for future contributions," said spokesperson Emily. Guerrant.

However, experts told the Free Press that courts across the country have repeatedly said that Free Press's donation agreements are legal contracts. And removing it does not mean zeroing the account and telling Pearls that the legally binding contract was going to be torn, Free sources told Engler's internal government.

Engler had been under fire for months following the treatment, by the university, of Larry Nassar's sexual assault scandal.

Nessel said the Auditor General had received MSU documents on the Pearls issue and that he was looking for talks.

Nessel has also updated other investigations on MSU and Nassar:

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Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks at the Michigan Civil Rights Commission meeting at Cadillac Place in Detroit on Friday, February 1, 2019. (Photo11: Han Junfu, Detroit Free Press)

Shortly before his departure, Schuette's special prosecutor presented a scathing report on the actions of MSU during the Nassar affair, claiming that its "culture of indifference and institutional protection" had contributed to hundreds of women and girls being victims of Sexual abuse.

"An institution really interested in the truth would not have acted like MSU," wrote William Forsyth, who conducted the investigation. "MSU's initial decision to use a private law firm to conduct its internal investigation, its subsequent refusal to disclose the results of this investigation and to waive solicitor / client privilege, as well as its insistence that its lawyers assist interviews with witnesses made it virtually impossible to know exactly what happened at the MSU during the Nassar years ".


The Attorney General's Special Attorney, William Forsyth, is holding a press conference to discuss a report published about an investigation into Larry Nassar's treatment by the MSU.
RJ Wolcott, Lansing State Journal

Former MSU President Lou Anna Simon, former Dean William Strampel and former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages are all facing criminal charges related to Forsyth's investigation.

Contact David Jesse: [email protected] or 313-222-8851. Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj

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