USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and their insurers agreed to the settlement in bankruptcy court in Indianapolis, Indiana, Monday, Dec. 13. The money will be distributed to the hundreds of gymnasts who were treated and abused by Nassar over 30 years, from Olympic gold medalists like Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney to aspiring gymnasts at local clubs who sought out Nassar because of his reputation. The settlement also includes requirements that abuse survivors be given official roles in 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,” USAG 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.”
Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the USOPC, said, “We are grateful to have reached a resolution with the athlete survivors. 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. Reaching a financial resolution is one extremely important piece of the transformation that is taking place within our organization. In addition to actively participating in the mediation and contributing to the settlement, USOPC has enacted sweeping reforms to our governance structure to combat sexual abuse, support athletes and survivors and strengthen protections for athletes against any form of abuse. Our resolve to make Olympic and Paralympic sport safe for all guides everything we do. This is our pledge, today and every day.”
John C. Manly, lead attorney for the firm representing a number of Nassar abuse survivors, said in a statement, “This historic settlement ends another chapter in the Larry Nassar scandal. Survivors have now received a total of $880 million in compensation for their pain and suffering at the hands of this monster and the institutions who enabled him, Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. These organizations spent more than $100 million on corporate lawyers to evade their legal and moral responsibility. We prevailed for one simple reason, the courage and tenacity of the survivors. 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. 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. 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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The new settlement was finally agreed upon after the last holdout, TIG Insurance Company, agreed to pay a significant portion. The USOPC will also contribute about $34 million to the settlement and loan $6 million to USA Gymnastics for its contribution. The settlement will likely allow USA Gymnastics to finally come out of bankruptcy proceedings and, under new leadership, it’s expected to remain the governing body of the sport in the U.S.
Nassar — who abused an estimated 300 young athletes under the guise of medical treatment during his time as a team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University — was effectively sentenced to life in prison in 2018 following a string of guilty pleas and convictions on charges ranging from child pornography to sexual assault of minors. Concurrently, Nassar’s victims filed lawsuits against USA Gymnastics and the USOPC over their responses to and handling of Nassar and the allegations against him. Amidst the deluge, USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in 2018, while leaders at both USA Gymnastics and the USOPC tendered their resignations.
Along with the scrutiny it’s brought to USA Gymnastics and the USOPC, the FBI has also come under fire for its mishandling of the investigation into abuse allegations against Nassar. In October, the Department of Justice said it was reviewing its decision not to prosecute the FBI agents who disregarded gymnasts’ allegations against Nassar. That decision came weeks after Biles, Maroney, Raisman, and other gymnasts delivered searing Congressional testimony against the various systems that had allowed Nassar’s abuse to go unchecked.
“How much is a little girl worth?” Biles said during her testimony. “I suffered and continue to suffer because no one at the FBI, USAG, or USOPC did what was necessary to protect us. We have been failed and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.”