Gymnasts abused by team doctor Nassar reach $380 mln settlement
Los Angeles (AFP) – Victims of jailed former US national gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar are to receive $380 million after reaching a settlement with USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and their insurers, attorneys said on Monday.
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The settlement -- one of the largest ever recorded for victims of sex abuse -- ends a five-year legal battle that erupted following the abuse scandal that rocked the US Olympic movement.
Nassar, 58, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in late 2017 and early 2018 to sexually assaulting athletes while working as a sports medicine doctor at USA Gymnastics (USAG) and Michigan State University (MSU).
Hundreds of women -- including Olympic gold medallists such as Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney -- have accused Nassar of sexually abusing them over the course of his more than two-decade career.
Monday's settlement, which includes claims from Biles, Raisman and Maroney, was confirmed during a hearing in a federal bankruptcy court in Indianapolis.
The deal means some $880 million in settlements have now been reached following an earlier $500 million settlement from MSU in 2018.
"We prevailed for one simple reason, the courage and tenacity of the survivors," John Manly, who represents more than 180 women abused by Nassar, said in a statement confirming details of the agreement.
"These brave women relived their abuse publicly, in countless media interviews, so that not one more child will be forced to suffer physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in pursuit of their dreams."
Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go public with allegations against Nassar in 2016, welcomed 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."
USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after a tidal wave of allegations against Nassar swamped the organization.
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 $34 million payment directly from the USOPC, as well as a $6 million loan from the USOPC to USA Gymnastics.
As part of the agreement, a victim of abuse will be put on the board of directors of USA Gymnastics.
In September, Olympic champion Biles and other victims of Nassar gave devastating testimony in the US Senate, excoriating US sports officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to act against Nassar when complaints against the doctor first emerged.
USA Gymnastics reported Nassar to the FBI in July 2015, but he continued to work at MSU and sexually abused at least 70 more women until a newspaper exposed him in September 2016.
"We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at the FBI, USAG or USOPC did what was necessary to protect us," said Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medallist.
Biles' fellow Olympic gold medallist Maroney, said during the hearing she had reported abuse by Nassar in 2015 during a three-hour telephone interview with an FBI agent, but it was "minimized and disregarded."
"Not only did the FBI not report my abuse but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said," Maroney told the hearing.
Manly said on Monday attorneys would continue their fight to hold officials from the FBI, USAG and USOPC accountable.
"There is one more chapter yet to be written, the criminal prosecution of the FBI officials who failed to investigate and stop Nassar together with the USAG and USOPC officials who conspired with them to impede the investigation," Manly said.
"We will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the hundreds of little girls and young women who were molested as a direct result of their obstruction of justice," he said.
© 2021 AFP