USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee reached a $380 million settlement Monday with hundreds of women who were sexually abused by former U.S. Olympic and national team physician Larry Nassar.
As reported by The Detroit News, the settlement ends a bitter legal battle that highlighted the organization's role in covering up Nassar's predatory behavior for more than year. It comes almost three years to the day since USA Gymnastics, facing decertification proceedings by the USOPC and hundreds of lawsuits from victims, filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Indiana. USA Gymnastics and the USOPC have also agreed to designate board seats to survivors and Safe Sport policies designed to provide greater protections for athletes, the News reported.
The New York Times reported that the settlement amount would compensate more than 500 gymnasts who were abused by Nassar, including Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman.
Still, victims and their supporters continue to demand that Congress remove the current USOPC board and strip USA Gymnastics of its national governing body status.
"Congress needs to remove the USOPC's leadership and completely revamp that organization," said John Manley, an Orange County attorney who represents hundreds of Nassar survivors. "These organizations are utterly corrupt. They only care about their junkets and money and medals. Athletes are just commodities to them and Larry Nassar is the result of that culture."
Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 2017. He was later sentenced to 40 to 175 years and 40 to 125 years in two Michigan state courts after pleading guilty to multiple sexual assault charges. He is currently an inmate at a federal prison in Florida.
As reported by the News, USA Gymnastics had a longstanding policy prior to the Nassar scandal of not warning member gyms or parents of athletes of sexual misconduct allegations against coaches or other individuals, a longtime top aide to the organization's former CEO acknowledged in a previously undisclosed sworn deposition revealed by the Southern California News Group in June.
Moreover, employees were instructed by USA Gymnastics not to report sexual misconduct complaints to law enforcement or Child Protective Services — even though they were informed by the organization that they were mandated reporters. Instead, USA Gymnastics employees prior to 2015 were told to forward sexual misconduct complaints to attorneys representing the organization, including Jack Swarbrick, who currently serves as director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame.
That policy is the reason officials at Michigan State University, where Nassar also served as a team physician, were kept in the dark. MSU officials said they did not become aware of allegations that Nassar had sexually assaulted Team USA members under the guise of medical treatment until the allegations were made public in September 2016.
Nassar continued to sexually abuse new victims at Michigan State in the 16 months between when USA Gymnastics, the USOPC and the FBI were told of the allegations against him and when Nassar's abuse became public.