May 17, 2018
Michigan State University has agreed to pay $500m (£371m) to gymnasts who were abused by ex-team doctor Larry Nassar.
The deal was announced by a California law firm representing 332 victims of Nassar, who assaulted women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.
The deal does not include any non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements, according to a statement from lawyers and the university.
It does not address allegations against other groups for which Nassar worked.
It does not address claims against USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee, or the owners of the Texas facility where gymnasts trained, according to a statement from the California law firm of Manly, Stewart & Finaldi in Los Angeles.
According to the lawyers, $425m will be paid to the claimants, and another $75m would be set aside for any future allegations against Nassar, 54, and the university.
The lawyers’ statement does not address how the money will be allocated to each of Nassar’s accusers.
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“This historic settlement came about through the bravery of more than 300 women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced,” attorney John Manly said in the statement on Wednesday.
He added that it is their “hope” that “the legacy of this settlement” will serve to eradicate abuse in US sport.
The university’s board chairman Brian Breslin also issued a written statement saying: “We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories.”
“We recognise the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention” he continued.
Holding the institution accountable
Analysis by Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News, Washington
Many of the young women who survived Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse weren’t just angry at what he had done to them, but at the institutions they felt had enabled him.
Michigan State University was where he worked for decades, and many of the young gymnasts felt their complaints to staff there went ignored.
This settlement is an acknowledgement from the university that they could have done things so very differently. But for some survivors, like Rachel Denhollander, the first woman to go public with her story, there is a long way to go.
She says she is grateful for the settlement, but disappointed at the “missed opportunity for reform” at the university.
For so many of the women I watched in court throughout the harrowing sentencing earlier this year, speaking out wasn’t just about getting justice for themselves – but about changing attitudes and processes so other survivors of abuse have a voice too.
The president of USA Gymnastics, which oversees the US Olympic team, as well as the entire board of directors resigned after at least 156 women came forward to testify against the disgraced ex-doctor.
Earlier this year, the university’s president and director of athletics resigned amid claims that school officials had been told of allegations against Nassar years ago but failed to act.
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Former president Lou Anna Simon denied claims of a university cover-up as she stepped down on the same day that Nassar was sentenced for his crimes.
The settlement surpasses the $109m that Penn State University agree to pay in 2017 to settle claims by at least 35 people against American football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Nassar is currently being held in federal jail and will likely remain there for the rest of his life.
He is serving a 60-year sentence for child pornography. If he is ever released he faces up to 175 years in state jail for sexual assault.