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Gymnasts abused by Larry Nassar reach $380 million settlement with Olympic organizations

Gymnasts abused by former U.S. national team doctor Larry Nassar reached a $380 million settlement on Dec. 13 with USA Gymnastics and their insurers. (Video: Reuters)

Gymnasts abused by former U.S. national team doctor Larry Nassar reached a settlement Monday that will require the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and their insurers to pay them $380 million.

The settlement, announced in an Indianapolis bankruptcy court, also requires USA Gymnastics to provide a seat on its board to a gymnast who had been abused by Nassar.

But it comes at an emotional cost for those who said they were abused while being treated by Nassar, many of whom had to reveal the details of that abuse publicly, including gold medalists Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman. It also comes after the leaders of USA Gymnastics and the USOPC were assailed by gymnasts for turning a blind eye to Nassar, who is serving what is essentially a life sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting children and possessing child pornography.

The settlement was revealed in court Monday morning and became official in the afternoon after Judge Robyn Moberly took several hours to read the agreement.

“We prevailed for one simple reason, the courage and tenacity of the survivors,” John Manly, the attorney for many of the girls and women assaulted by Nassar, said in a statement. “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.”

Sally Jenkins: Simone Biles was abandoned by American Olympic officials, and the torment hasn’t stopped

The legal fight started in 2016 when Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist at the 2000 Olympics, sued the USOPC (then known as the USOC) and USA Gymnastics over their failures to protect her from Nassar’s abuse, leading to suits from hundreds of girls and women against those two organizations as well as Michigan State University, where Nassar worked. Michigan State paid $500 million in 2018 to settle more than 300 claims.

But the battle dragged on between those abused by Nassar and the USOPC and USA Gymnastics — which filed for bankruptcy after the claims. After a year and a half of mediation with the gymnasts, the USOPC and USA Gymnastics sued several insurance companies in 2020, saying the insurers were slowing an agreement with the victims.

“Now the hard work of reform and rebuilding can begin,” tweeted Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast who was the first to publicly accuse Nassar of assault. “Whether or not justice comes and change is made, depends on what happens next.”

“We are grateful to have reached a resolution with the athlete survivors,” USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. “We have the deepest respect for the tremendous strength and bravery these women have shown. We recognize our role in failing to protect these athletes, and we are sorry for the profound hurt they have endured.”

The USOPC will contribute $34 million to the settlement as well as loan $6 million to USA Gymnastics.

“USA Gymnastics is deeply sorry for the trauma and pain that Survivors have endured as a result of this organization’s actions and inactions,” USA Gymnastics President and CEO Li Li Leung said in a statement. “The Plan of Reorganization that we jointly filed reflects our own accountability to the past and our commitment to the future.

“Individually and collectively, Survivors have stepped forward with bravery to advocate for enduring change in this sport. We are committed to working with them, and with the entire gymnastics community, to ensure that we continue to prioritize the safety, health, and wellness of our athletes and community above all else.”

The gymnast told lawmakers on Sept. 15 about the failings of the FBI’s handling of the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by coach Larry Nassar. (Video: Reuters)

In September, Biles, Maroney, Raisman and another former gymnast, Maggie Nichols, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, describing their abuse in horrifying detail and blaming the USOPC, USA Gymnastics and the FBI for ignoring Nassar’s abuse.

“The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us,” Biles testified.

The FBI learned of the allegations against Nassar in 2015, a year before officials in Michigan arrested him. A July report from the Justice Department’s inspector general estimated Nassar abused 70 more gymnasts during that time. Maroney accused the FBI of “falsifying” and trying to “minimize” her report of Nassar’s assault.

“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 USA [Gymnastics] and USOPC officials who conspired with them to impede the investigation,” Manly said in his statement. “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.”

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