Dec 14, 2021
Larry Nassar sexual abuse survivors will receive $380 million in a settlement reached with U.S.A. Gymnastics (USAG), the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and their respective insurers. Nassar, a disgraced former USAG and Michigan State University physician, was sentenced to over 300 years in prison in 2018 after hundreds of women came forward to report instances of sexual abuse occurring over the course of three decades.
In addition to the $380 million, the settlement will include:
The $380 million settlement, confirmed by an Indianapolis federal bankruptcy court Monday, is one of the largest ever awarded to survivors of sexual abuse. It marks the conclusion to a five-year legal battle between survivors and U.S.A. Gymnastics. As part of the settlement, both USAG and the USOPC must implement reforms aimed at preventing future abuse.
“These powerful institutions enabled Dr. Nassar to thrive and avoid discovery of his crimes,” Tasha Schwikert-Warren, a former Olympian and Nassar survivor, said Monday following the announcement of the settlement. “I am proud of my survivor sisters who showed their strength and stepped up to make this settlement possible. What makes me hopeful this will never happen again is the commitment by USAG and USOPC for institutional reform in the bankruptcy plan.”
Rachael Denhollander, the first survivor to publicly accuse Nassar of sex crimes in 2016, welcomed the settlement while noting the importance of future reform. “This chapter has closed, but the real work of restoration is just beginning,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Some survivors are Olympians and elite gymnasts, and wielded their platform powerfully. Most of the over 500 represented here, are not, but showed up over and over again. We did this together. Don’t forget their voices, what they gave, and what it took,” Denhollander added via Twitter.
Some of the more prominent individuals who brought claims against Nassar and were covered in the settlement include Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney.
In July, a report issued following a Department of Justice investigation detailed numerous missteps on the part of the FBI in their handling of allegations against Nassar. In said report, the Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that the FBI failed to investigate Nassar for several months despite receiving multiple accusations of sexual abuse. CBS News reported that the FBI’s inaction allowed between 70 and 120 girls to be sexually abused by Nassar.
In September, Nassar survivors, including Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, testified before the Senate regarding gross negligence on the part of USAG and the FBI.
“I believe without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, U.S.A. Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committees failed to do their jobs,” Biles said during her testimony.
“The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us,” she added. “The impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten.”
USAG filed for bankruptcy in 2018. The settlement will allow the organization to exit bankruptcy while settling accounts with various creditors.
The Wall Street Journal reported that survivors had actually approved the settlement in August, but it was not fully funded due to at least one insurer as well as the USOPC objecting to the amount they would be required to pay. How the $380 million will be divided is unclear given the public details currently available regarding the settlement. More than 500 survivors filed claims against Nassar and USAG.
Yahoo! Sports reported that numerous survivors were in mediation with USAG, “trying to receive money to pay for costly mental health treatment they need due to the sexual abuse they endured – abuse that happened on their watch.”
In total, approximately $880 million has been paid in compensation to Nassar survivors following sexual abuse claims, according to a BBC report. A large portion of that amount, roughly $550 million, was agreed to be paid by Michigan State University in 2018.
DLG’s founder and former sex crimes prosecutor, Sam Dordulian, hailed the courage of the survivors while noting that the settlement, though historic in its overall amount, should be viewed in appropriate context given the number of claims and extent of the abuse.
“This is an important victory for Nassar survivors that will help ensure they get the resources and care needed now and into the future. These were young women and girls who were victimized, and the healing process will be lifelong,” Dordulian said.
The Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal is, unfortunately, one of countless tragic examples of systemic failures on the part of major college athletic administrations. In addition to Nassar, college athletic sex crime scandals that have made headlines in recent years include:
The four main principles of the Child Athlete Bill of Rights include (under the acronym SAFE):
If implemented, the Child Athlete Bill of Rights would establish a first-ever national set of regulations governing youth sports – regulations enforceable through civil claims against an organization’s (such as the USAG) insurance coverage.
Under California AB 218, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse are eligible to file claims seeking financial compensation, regardless of how long ago the crimes occurred. AB 218 temporarily pauses the statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims, allowing survivors an unprecedented opportunity at securing justice and recovering a maximum financial damages award that can help cover various types of losses, such as:
AB 218’s three-year lookback window allowing survivors to file claims is only open for a limited period of time, however. After December 31, 2022, the lookback window closes and the standard statute of limitations resumes. Accordingly, childhood sexual abuse survivors are strongly encouraged to file their claims as soon as possible. Once the lookback window ends, many claims will be barred under California’s statute of limitations.
For a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation with a Dordulian Law Group (DLG) sexual abuse lawyer, contact us at 818-322-4056. DLG’s SAJE Team offers sexual abuse survivors a unique form of legal representation with access to added resources.
There is never any fee until we successfully recover maximum financial compensation for your childhood sexual abuse claim. To learn more about your legal options or to have a question related to filing a civil claim answered by a member of our dedicated team, contact a sex crimes attorney at DLG today.
California AB 218, the landmark legislation which took effect in 2020, allows ALL survivors of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to file a civil claim and obtain justice through financial compensation — regardless of how long ago the crime occurred. But AB 218’s three-year loopback window officially expires at the end of 2022, and survivors who haven’t filed a claim before that time will likely left without any future legal recourse. To speak with a child sexual abuse lawyer, contact us today at 818-322-4056.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.