Athletes who were sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar have reached a $380m settlement with the organisation, the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and their insurers, a lawyer for some of the victims said.
The settlement – described as one of the largest ever for victims of sexual abuse – ends a five-year legal battle for victims of Nassar, 58. According to court filings, more than 500 victims have sought compensation.
Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting athletes while working as a sports medicine doctor at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University (MSU).
“This settlement is about the brave survivors who came forward, forced these organizations to listen, and demanded change,” Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a lawyer who represents more than two dozen Nassar survivors, said in a joint statement on Monday with Tasha Schwikert Moser, co-chair of the Survivors Creditors Committee.
“Through this agreement, these survivors are finally being acknowledged and USAG and USOPC are being forced to change so that this sport can begin a new chapter,” the statement said.
The settlement will cover claims brought among others by Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, who were among Nassar’s most high-profile sexual abuse victims.
All three women testified about the abuse they suffered during a US Senate hearing this year.
At the hearing, they blasted USA Gymnastics and Olympic officials for failing to stop Nassar, and they took the FBI to task for its botched investigation into his crimes.
“USA Gymnastics is deeply sorry for the trauma and pain that Survivors have endured as a result of this organization’s actions and inactions,” USAG President and CEO Li Li Leung said in a statement on Monday.
Nassar, who had been the main doctor for Olympic gymnasts for 18 years, was sentenced in federal court in 2017 to 60 years in prison on charges of possessing child sex abuse material.
The following year, he was also sentenced to up to 175 years and up to 125 years, respectively, in two separate Michigan courts for molesting female gymnasts under his care.
Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go public with allegations against Nassar in 2016, welcomed news of Monday’s settlement.
“This chapter is finally closed,” Denhollander wrote on Twitter. “Now the hard work of reform and rebuilding can begin. Whether or not justice comes and change is made, depends on what happens next.”
This chapter is finally closed.
Now the hard work of reform and rebuilding can begin. Whether or not justice comes and change is made, depends on what happens next. https://t.co/611dOyACeP
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) December 13, 2021
USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after a tidal wave of allegations against Nassar swamped the organisation.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Monday’s settlement was reached after the TIG Insurance Company agreed to pay a “substantial share” of the settlement. The deal includes a $34m payment directly from the USOPC, as well as a $6m loan from the USOPC to USA Gymnastics.
As part of the agreement, USA Gymnastics and the Olympic Committee also agreed to designate some of their board seats to survivors and to implement other new policies aimed at protecting athletes from future abuse.