College to pay $670m to victims of Nassar

Larry Nassar, 54, was jailed after being found guilty of rampant sexual abuse of girls and women in his care.
Larry Nassar, 54, was jailed after being found guilty of rampant sexual abuse of girls and women in his care.

Bulk of settlement by Michigan State will go to 332 women who filed sex abuse cases

NEW YORK • Michigan State University (MSU) on Wednesday agreed to pay US$500 million (S$670 million) to settle lawsuits filed by 332 alleged sex abuse victims of disgraced former sports physician Larry Nassar.

The settlement ends the university's involvement in litigation over the former Olympic and USA Gymnastics doctor's rampant sexual abuse of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.

The university will pay US$425 million to the 332 girls and women who have come forward to date, averaging about US$1.28 million per victim, and will also set aside an additional US$75 million in a trust fund for victims who come forward in the future.

"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, in a statement.

"It is the sincere hope of all of the survivors that the legacy of this settlement will be far-reaching institutional reform that will end the threat of sexual assault in sports, schools and throughout our society."

Nassar, 54, is serving an effective life sentence in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting nine girls and women, 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, including Olympic gold medallists Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney, triggered national outrage about the case, prompting fallout that continues for the organisations through which Nassar accessed his victims.

HISTORIC SETTLEMENT

It is the sincere hope of all of the survivors that the legacy of this settlement will be far-reaching institutional reform that will end the threat of sexual assault in sports, schools and throughout our society.

JOHN MANLY , US attorney representing victims of Larry Nassar.

"A successful mediation has been a priority for the university and for me since I arrived on campus in February," MSU interim president John Engler said.

"The entire MSU community has worked hard at changes to make sure a monster like Larry Nassar could never hide again on our campus.

"We are also working every day to prevent sexual misconduct on our campus and have a community that respects women and all who work or visit here.

"Today's announcement is important in the healing process, not only for the survivors, but also for the university as we collectively move forward."

The impact of the scandal on the university has been substantial, including the resignations of president Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis in January, and may extend beyond the financial.

The settlement also surpasses the more than US$109 million paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse.

The US$500 million payout will have to come from a combination of insurance, state funding, student tuition revenue, reserve funds and loans, said Thomas Harnisch, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

The US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and famed former Olympic coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi all still face lawsuits filed by Nassar victims, while there are also ongoing congressional and law enforcement investigations into the scandal.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2018, with the headline 'College to pay $670m to victims of Nassar'. Print Edition | Subscribe