Michigan State University reach $724 million settlement with Nassar victims

Heather Diaz
May 17, 2018

- Michigan State University has settled hundreds of lawsuits filed by the survivors of former doctor Larry Nassar and will pay out $500 million to victims.

Nassar, who is now in federal prison, for years preyed upon girls and young women in his role as a university doctor and as a physician for the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

Nassar worked at MSU and USA Gymnastics for decades.

In February, Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison for the systematic abuse of female athletes under his care going back to the 1990s at both Michigan State, where Nassar was an employee, and USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State and lawyers for 332 victims announced the deal after negotiating privately with the help of a mediator.

During the sentencing hearings, many accusers described an ultra-competitive gymnastics culture in which authority figures could not be questioned and Nassar was free to abuse young patients year after year.

"Denhollander says she remains "deeply disappointed at the missed opportunity for meaningful reform at the university".

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The trial, which ended in January, had featured testimony about corruption at the highest levels of the Turkish government. Prosecutors identified Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab as the central figure in the scheme.

"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", said John Manly, the lead attorney for the victims.

Also, it did not resolve claims against USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee, star gymnastics coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi, and others. University officials maintain they were ignorant of Nassar's abusive behavior until media outlets began running victims' stories in 2016.

The attorneys stressed that the settlement, which was agreed to by the university's board of trustees in a conference call on Tuesday night, is still not final. Amid the fallout, the university president resigned, the state attorney general opened a criminal investigation, and Nassar's longtime boss, William D. Strampel, was charged with committing abuse himself. "We appreciate the diligent efforts of ...survivors' attorneys across the nation who worked to obtain this measure of justice and healing", John Manly, an attorney for numerous survivors, told the press. You created the type of environment where victims were afraid to speak up.

Earlier this month, the credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service lowered the MSU's bond rating in the wake of the Nassar scandal, which means the school will no longer be eligible for preferred interest rates.

In 2014, the university determined that his "pelvic floor" treatments were medically legitimate, despite complaints.

MSU paid nine law firms more than $11 million to defend the university in the lawsuits from the women and girls, according to documents the university released to the Lansing State Journal in response to public records requests.

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