Gymnasts reach $380M settlement in Larry Nassar abuse case

USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee agreed on Monday to pay $380 million to settle lawsuits filed by female gymnasts who were sexually abused by former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar.

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The settlement, announced in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana, is among the largest ever for a sexual abuse case, according to The New York Times. The funds will compensate more than 500 gymnasts, including Olympic gold medalists like Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, who were abused by Nassar or someone else in the sport, the newspaper reported.

The settlement also includes a direct contribution from the USOPC of around $34 million and a $6 million loan from the USOPC to USA Gymnastics to contribute, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The settlement ends a legal battle that began in September 2016, when 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher filed the first civil lawsuit against Nassar, the convicted serial sexual predator, ESPN reported.

“No amount of money will ever repair the damage that has been done and what these women have been through,” Rachael Denhollander, an Nassar abuse survivor who was involved in settlement negotiations, told the Times. “But at some point, the negotiations have to end because these women need help -- and they need it right now.”

Along with the $500 million settlement from Michigan State University in May 2018, the $880 million in settlements is the largest involving a single perpetrator in a sexual assault case, ESPN reported.

“This settlement is the result of the bravery of hundreds of survivors who, despite legal obstacles, long odds and the best corporate legal talent money can buy, refused to be silent. The power of their story eventually won the day,” plaintiffs’ attorney John Manly said.

Because of the lawsuits, USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy protection in late 2018, the same year Nassar was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison, the Times reported.

Nassar worked as a volunteer with USA Gymnastics for more than two decades, including serving as the national team’s medical coordinator beginning in 1996, according to ESPN. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to possession of child pornography and, in early 2018, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his former patients, the sports network reported.

“This settlement occurred because of a five-year, bare-knuckled legal fight the USOPC and USA Gymnastics decided to initiate against me and 500-plus sister survivors,” attorney Sarah Klein, who served as co-chair of the survivors committee, told ESPN on Monday. “After thousands of hours of this survivors committee’s time, blood, sweat and tears, today we prevailed.”

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