Michi­gan State will pay $500M to abuse vic­tims

Deal cov­ers 332 whom sports doc­tor as­saulted



Michi­gan State Univer­sity, Larry Nas­sar case, with 332 vic­tims so far


Penn State Univer­sity, Jerry San­dusky case, with at least 35 vic­tims

Michi­gan State Univer­sity has agreed to pay $500 mil­lion to set­tle law­suits filed by 332 vic­tims of dis­graced former sports physi­cian Larry Nas­sar, both sides an­nounced Wed­nes­day, end­ing the univer­sity’s in­volve­ment in lit­i­ga­tion over the former Olympic gym­nas­tics doc­tor’s ram­pant sex­ual abuse of girls and women un­der the guise of med­i­cal treat­ment.

“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,” said John Manly, one of sev­eral at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing vic­tims.

“It is the sin­cere hope of all of the sur­vivors that the le­gacy In 2016, Rachael Den­hol­lan­der in­sti­gated the case by fil­ing a po­lice re­port ac­cus­ing Nas­sar of as­sault­ing her and telling her story to a news­pa­per.

of this set­tle­ment will be far­reach­ing in­sti­tu­tional re­form that will end the threat of sex­ual as­sault in sports, schools and through­out our so­ci­ety.”

The deal far sur­passes the $100 mil­lion-plus paid by Penn State Univer­sity to set­tle claims by at least 35 peo­ple who ac­cused as­sis­tant foot­ball coach Jerry San­dusky of sex­ual abuse. The Nas­sar agree­ment in­volves many more vic­tims.

Nas­sar, 54, is serv­ing an ef­fec­tive life sen­tence in prison af­ter plead­ing guilty to as­sault­ing nine girls and women in Michi­gan, as well as to fed­eral child pornog­ra­phy crimes.

At his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing in Jan­uary, the emo­tional tes­ti­mony of more than 150 girls, women and par­ents raised na­tional out­rage about the Nas­sar case, prompt­ing fall­out that con­tin­ues for the or­ga­ni­za­tions through which Nas­sar ac­cessed his vic­tims.

The set­tle­ment will pay $425 mil­lion to the 332 girls and women who have come for­ward to date, av­er­ag­ing about $1.28 mil­lion per

vic­tim. Michi­gan State will set aside an ad­di­tional $75 mil­lion in a trust fund for any vic­tims who come for­ward in the fu­ture.

“Michi­gan State is pleased that we have been able to agree in prin­ci­ple on a set­tle­ment that is fair to the sur­vivors of Nas­sar’s crimes,” said Robert Young, a lawyer for the univer­sity.

The set­tle­ment ap­plies to only Michi­gan State and MSU in­di­vid­u­als sued in the lit­i­ga­tion. It does not ad­dress claims against USA Gym­nas­tics, the U.S. Olympic Com­mit­tee, Bela and Martha Karolyi, Twis­tars, John Ged­dert or any other par­ties.

In Au­gust 2016, Rachael Den­hol­lan­der, a Louisville, Ky., woman, filed a po­lice re­port ac­cus­ing Nas­sar of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing her years prior, when she was a teenage gym­nast seek­ing his treat­ment, and then told her story to the In­di­anapo­lis Star.

Nas­sar de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions, but af­ter read­ing the Star story of Den­hol­lan­der’s abuse, dozens of women across the coun­try re­al­ized that what they had thought was un­usual med­i­cal treat­ment — in which Nas­sar dig­i­tally pen­e­trated them with­out gloves or warn­ing — was ac­tu­ally sex­ual as­sault.

Top univer­sity of­fi­cials, how­ever, led by then-Pres­i­dent Lou Anna Si­mon, pub­licly claimed Michi­gan State had done noth­ing wrong in han­dling prior com­plaints about Nas­sar.

The univer­sity’s trus­tees main­tained sup­port for Si­mon, and her view­point, un­til Jan­uary, when an ex­tra­or­di­nary sev­en­day, tele­vised sen­tenc­ing hear­ing brought na­tional at­ten­tion to hor­rific sto­ries of Nas­sar’s abuse and the dam­age it wrought. Si­mon re­signed the day a Michi­gan judge sen­tenced Nas­sar to 40 to 175 years.

While Wed­nes­day’s set­tle­ment will re­move Michi­gan State from Nas­sar-re­lated lit­i­ga­tion, the fall­out over his crimes is likely not yet over. Law­suits con­tinue against the USOC, USA Gym­nas­tics and the Karolyis. Con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue, as well as law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions in Michi­gan and Texas, where the Karolyis’ ranch is lo­cated.

“These women are not go­ing away. They are go­ing to be there, hold­ing these peo­ple ac­count­able un­til this changes,” Manly said. “This is the be­gin­ning, not the end.”


In Jan­uary, the shadows of Michi­gan State Univer­sity stu­dents ap­peared on “the rock” on the cam­pus that was painted “Thank You” and in­cluded the names of the women who gave vic­tim im­pact state­ments dur­ing Larry Nas­sar’s sen­tenc­ing hear­ing.

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