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.