Michigan State Reaches $500M Settlement With Nassar Victims

Larry Nassar enters Judge Janice Cunningham’s courtroom on Jan. 31, 2018, during the first day of victim impact statements in Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (CN) – Michigan State University announced Wednesday that it has agreed to pay a $500 million settlement to hundreds of women and girls sexually abused by former university and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Earlier this year, Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison, where the 54-year-old will likely die. Hundreds of women and girls have come forward saying he had molested them under the guise of treating their injuries.

MSU and attorneys representing 332 victims said Wednesday that the university had agreed in principle to pay $425 million to the plaintiffs in the litigation and that an additional $75 million will be set aside for future claimants.

Directors at USA Gymnastics and MSU, where Nassar was a faculty member, have stepped down in response to the scandal. The MSU Board of Trustees agreed to the settlement on Tuesday night.

In a prepared statement, the survivors’ attorney John Manly applauded his clients for their bravery.

“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,” Manly said.

Robert Young, special counsel to the university, called the settlement “responsible and equitable.”

“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,” Young said.

Another attorney for the women and girls, Michelle Simpson Tuegel, said she hoped the settlement would bring “healing” to her clients and lessen the threat of sexual assault against student athletes.

“The safety of our female athletes in this country should be a priority over their performance,” Simpson Tuegel said.

Nassar was a world-renowned doctor and highly regarded in the sports world but prematurely ended the careers of some athletes whose injuries went untreated while he abused them.

He was arrested in November 2016 by Michigan prosecutors and a month later faced federal child pornography charges.

The child pornography and criminal sexual conduct charges capped an investigation that began after gymnast Rachael Denhollander reported that Nassar had assaulted her when she visited him with back pain in 2000 at age 15. She came forward after a 2016 Indianapolis Star investigative report into sexual abuse allegations in USA Gymnastics.

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