US gymnastics abuse victims reach $380 million settlement

Victims of Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the US women’s gymnastics team, reached a $380 million settlement this week with the USA Gymnastics governing body, US Olympic & Paralympic Committee and their insurers after a five-year legal battle.

The settlement will cover claims brought among others by Olympic gold medallists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, who were among Nassar’s most high-profile sexual abuse victims.

According to court filings, more than 500 victims have sought compensation.

“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.

As part of the settlement, USA Gymnastics (USAG) and the Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) also agreed to designate some of their board seats to survivors and to implement other new policies aimed at protecting athletes from future abuse. The Olympic Committee has committed to allocating $5 million, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs said.

“This settlement is about the brave survivors who came forward, forced these organisations to listen, and demanded change,” Michelle Simpson Tuegel, who represents more than two dozen Nassar survivors, said in a joint statement with Tasha Schwikert Moser, co-chair of the Survivors Creditors Committee.

“Through this agreement, these survivors are finally being acknowledged and USAG and USOPC are being forced to change so that this sport can begin a new chapter,” they said.

Biles, Raisman and Maroney testified about the abuse  during a Senate hearing in September at which they criticised USA Gymnastics and Olympic officials for failing to stop Nassar.

They also criticised the FBI over its investigation into Nassar’s actions.

The Justice Department in October launched a fresh inquiry into the FBI’s handling of the Nassar investigation after previously declining to prosecute the agents involved.

Nassar, the main doctor for Olympic gymnasts for 18 years, was sentenced in federal court in 2017 to 60 years in prison on charges of possessing child sex abuse material.

The following year, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years and up to 125 years, respectively, in two separate Michigan courts for molesting female gymnasts under his care.

The settlement announced this week was reached after TIG Insurance agreed to pay a large portion of the money, the Wall Street Journal had previously reported.

USA Gymnastics voluntarily filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after Olympic bronze medallist Jamie Dantzscher filed a lawsuit and additional claims were filed on behalf of a growing number of Nassar’s victims.

The terms of Monday’s settlement deal, which were confirmed after a US bankruptcy court hearing in Indiana, will also enable USA Gymnastics to exit bankruptcy.

The settlement comes in the same week that one of the Boy Scouts of America’s primary insurers, Chubb unit Century Indemnity Company, said it will contribute $800 million to a deal proposed by the youth organisation to settle around 82,500 claims from people who claim they were sexually abused as children by troop leaders.

Nassar, the main doctor for Olympic gymnasts for 18 years, was sentenced in federal court in 2017 to 60 years in prison on charges of possessing child sex abuse material.

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