Hundreds of women sexually abused by disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar have tentatively agreed to a $US500 million ($665 million) settlement with Michigan State University, Nassar’s former employer, lawyers for both sides say.
- University to pay 332 victims
- Nassar serving prison sentence of up to 175 years
- Michigan State has annual budget of $1.7 billion
The deal calls for the univeristy to pay $US425 million ($565 million) to the 332 victims represented in current litigation, with another $US75 million ($100 million) set aside in a trust fund that could go to future plaintiffs who allege they were abused by Nassar, the lawyers said in a joint statement.
“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,” plaintiffs’ lawyer John Manly said.
The sexual abuse settlement appears to be one of the largest of its kind, reflecting the sheer number of victims, including well-known athletes such as 2012 Olympic gold medallist McKayla Maroney.
Many of them gave emotional testimony during Nassar’s sentencing hearings.
Nassar, who had worked as a doctor for the USA Gymnastics federation and also served at an on-campus clinic at Michigan State, earlier this year received a prison sentence of up to 175 years after pleading guilty last year to criminal sexual conduct.
Many victims testified that Nassar, 54, sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment while on his examination table, sometimes hiding it from view of parents waiting nearby.
The revelations of the long-running abuses sparked investigations into possible abuse at US athletic federations and schools by Congress and the US Department of Education, and led to the resignation of the entire USA Gymnastics board.
The head of the US Olympic Committee also resigned, citing medical reasons.
Brian Breslin, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, released a statement welcoming the end of the litigation and apologising to Nassar’s victims and their families.
The lawyers stressed that the settlement, which was agreed to by the university’s board of trustees late on Tuesday, was still not final.
It applies only to plaintiffs who have sued the university, and not those who have filed claims against the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi or anyone else, the lawyers said.
The dollar amount is on a similar scale to settlements paid by some US Roman Catholic dioceses as a result of its clergy sex abuse scandal.
Michigan State is a publicly funded university with an annual budget of about $US1.3 billion ($1.7 billion).