Victims of Larry Nassar, the former Olympic doctor who sexually abused teenage girls such as gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols, reached a settlement with USA Gymnastics (USAG) and the U.S. Olympic Committee for $380 million.
Insurers for the national Olympic organizations agreed to the settlement in bankruptcy court, with USAG hoping to exit bankruptcy and rebuild following the scandal left in the wake of Larry Nassar’s conviction. The former physician and child molester allegedly had affected hundreds of victims before being served with multiple, consecutive life sentences throughout 2017 and 2018.
“USA Gymnastics is deeply sorry for the trauma and pain that Survivors have endured as a result of this organization’s actions and inactions,” said USAG President and CEO Li Li Leung. “The Plan of Reorganization that we jointly filed reflects our own accountability to the past and our commitment to the future.”
The USA Gymnastics team stated that other than monetary settlements, the team also plans to drastically change safety and wellness protocols for its athletes, especially those who are minors.
“Individually and collectively, Survivors have stepped forward with bravery to advocate for enduring change in this sport,” Li Li Leung continued. “We are committed to working with them, and with the entire gymnastics community, to ensure that we continue to prioritize the safety, health, and wellness of our athletes and community above all else.”
Back in 2018, victims of Larry Nasser also received a $500 million settlement from abuses at Michigan State University, brought forward by over 332 survivors. In his trial, he accepted a plea deal and admitted that he was guilty of sexually abusing underage girls using his medical practice as a cover for over two decades.
Tom Forster, U.S. women’s gymnastics team leader since June 2018, also announced that he would be stepping down at the end of the year.
In response, Simone Biles tweeted, “Wait until y’all realize the real problem with USAG isn’t Tom.”
This past September, Biles and her fellow gymnasts spoke at a Senate hearing detailing how they made several complaints to both USAG and the FBI about their abuses, testifying that the FBI should be punished for their mishandling of the investigation.
“I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and continuing to this day, in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse,” Simone Biles said in her emotional testimony.
Her appearance in front of the Senate committee occurred just a few months after she withdrew from the Olympics in Japan due to performance issues stemming from her mental health.
Many of the gymnasts at that hearing are still fighting to get justice from those they believe are responsible for their prolonged abuse and questioned even after the settlement why no one at the FBI has been punished for their blatant failure in handling the investigation into Larry Nassar.
“These brave women relived their abuse publicly, in countless media interviews, so that not one more child will be forced to suffer physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in pursuit of their dreams,” said John C. Manly, lead attorney for Nassar’s hundreds of victims.
Calling for the criminal prosecution of the FBI officials who “failed to do their jobs” and “conspired” with USAG to cover up Larry Nassar’s abuse, he stated that they would “continue to pursue justice on behalf of the hundreds of little girls and young women who were molested as a direct result of their obstruction of justice.”
During the September hearings, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney also testified similar sentiments, believing that the FBI had actively tried to cover up and ignore aspects of Larry Nassar’s abuse investigation so as to not be held criminally responsible for over $800 million in damages to the victims, as they have paid out since 2018.
Thus far, the Justice Department has made no mention of prosecuting the FBI for their handling of the Larry Nassar investigation.
When asked at the Senate hearing what went wrong originally with the investigation, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “I don’t have a good explanation.”