Uni to pay $670m to settle Nassar lawsuits

Nassar, a former Olympic gymnastics doctor, 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.
Nassar, a former Olympic gymnastics doctor, 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.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Funds to be used to pay 332 current victims' claims, and others who may come forward

WASHINGTON • Michigan State University (MSU) has agreed to pay US$500 million (S$670 million) to settle lawsuits filed by alleged victims of disgraced former sports physician Larry Nassar, ending its involvement in litigation over Nassar's rampant sexual abuse of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.

The settlement 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. MSU will set aside an additional US$75 million in a trust fund for any victims who come forward in the future. The settlement resolved claims against faculty and staff employed at the school who were also implicated in the wide-ranging scandal.

"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 Mr John Manly, one of the attorneys representing victims, in a statement on Wednesday. "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, a former Olympic gymnastics doctor, is serving an effective life term after pleading guilty to assaulting nine girls and women in Michigan, as well as to federal child pornography crimes, and being sentenced to up to 175 years in jail.

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

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

The settlement applies only to Michigan State. The US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and famed former Olympic coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi all still face lawsuits filed by Nassar victims, who include Olympians Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas.

The MSU settlement 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 WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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