The civil sexual misconduct claims surrounding Michigan State and Larry Nassar, the team doctor for the U.S. gymnastics team, have continued with an initial settlement offer to the alleged victims.
The process has many colleges across the country shaking with worry, knowing that they could go down the same road if not careful.
Settlement Offered to Victims in Larry Nassar Scandal
The fallout from the Larry Nassar scandal continues.
The victims who claim they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, the team doctor for the U.S. gymnastics team and an employee at Michigan State University, filed civil lawsuits against any and every organization even tangentially related to the gymnastics program and Nassar, himself. Targets of those lawsuits included:
- USA Gymnastics
- Former CEO of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny
- The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
- National team directors Béla Károlyi and Márta Károlyi
- Twistars USA Gymnastics, a gym in Lansing, Michigan
USA Gymnastics' insurance provider recently proposed a settlement that would release the organization and its subdivisions from further claims. The settlement offered a total of $215 million to the 517 alleged victims, including:
- $1,250,757 to victims who were sexually abused by Nassar at national events and the Olympics
- $508,670 to “non-elite gymnast” victims who were abused at events sanctioned by USA Gymnastics
- $174,401 to gymnasts abused at other events and locations
- $82,550 for alleged victims pursuing derivative claims against the organizations
$11 million would be held in reserve for potential future claims.
This is in addition to the $500 million that Michigan State University paid to 333 survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse.
Pushback Against Settlement Offer
Advocates for the victims are claiming that the settlement is far too low, and lawyers representing the victims are claiming that the offer will be “dead on arrival.” According to them, putting a price of $82,000 on a child's experience of sexual assault is not enough.
Bankruptcy Proceedings and Insurance Complicate Matters
To make things more complicated, USA Gymnastics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in December 2018. Fighting for what few assets the organization has left can make it more difficult for alleged victims to recover what they think they deserve.
Meanwhile, vengeful advocates for the victims are angry that it would be USA Gymnastics' insurance company, rather than the company, itself, that would be paying the settlement. They want the individual people and organizations to pay out of their own pocket, seemingly despite the fact that it would almost guarantee an even lower settlement than the one they have already criticized as being too low.
Joseph D. Lento: A National Title IX Advisor
Schools are monitoring the process, knowing that this is the sort of thing that could happen to them if it comes out that one of their employees has been secretly abusing students for years.
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX advisor and Title IX defense lawyer. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for help with an allegation of sexual misconduct or abuse in the higher education setting.