U.S. Gymnastics is proposing a $ 425 million payment to settle claims from the victims of former national team doctor Larry Nassar, including some of the gymnastics’ biggest stars, the exposed sports governing body said in a lawsuit late Tuesday.
However, it was not immediately clear how such an amount could be paid without significant additional contributions from insurance companies and potentially the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee itself, which has also been sued by Nassar’s victims.
The offer comes nearly five years after initial public allegations that Nassar had sexually assaulted gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment, and three and a half years after USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy and faced hundreds of lawsuits.
The figure is being proposed jointly with a committee of survivors formed as part of the bankruptcy process, USA Gymnastics said in a lawsuit.
The proposed settlement is to the same extent as the $ 500 million settlement that Nassar’s employer, Michigan State University, agreed in 2018, in which he also abused women and girls. The United States Gymnastics offer also includes non-monetary changes to the way the organization operates, including requirements for gymnastics clubs to take more aggressive measures to prevent sexual abuse in order to remain members, and official representation of abuse survivors in its governing structures.
The biggest problem is probably still the financing of the offer. Commitments from some of the insurance companies are well below $ 425 million – and not all US Gymnastics and US Olympic & Paralympic Committee insurers have accepted payments.
The USOPC, the umbrella organization for national governing bodies such as the United States Gymnastics, said in a statement Tuesday that it supported the plan and called on the remaining insurance companies to agree to contribute. The statement did not comment on USOPC’s willingness to add its own funds.
Nassar treated dozens of elite gymnasts who competed for the United States in his time as a physician for the U.S. women’s team, including acclaimed U.S. Olympic gold medalists such as Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
Each individual has identified himself as a victim of abuse of him and while in the care of the United States Gymnastics; Biles, the Journal reported, was early known by USA Gymnastics for feeling uncomfortable with the doctor, but the association never followed up.
Raisman, another gymnast who was early identified as a possible victim, became a leading critic of USA Gymnastics. Maroney, described by some athletes as the most victim of Nassar, reached a secret $ 1.25 million settlement with USA Gymnastics in December 2016, but later sued to be released.
Victims that have emerged include other members of the 2016, 2012 and 2000 Olympic teams, 2011 and 2010 world teams and other national team members who go back at least as far as 1996.
Lawyers representing the women had accused USA Gymnastics, which Nassar had worked for since the 1990s and at four Olympics, of creating a toxic environment filled with pressure on young teenage athletes to be perceived as compliant, where a predator could flourish.
John Manly, a lawyer for many of these gymnasts, including Biles, Maroney and Raisman, as well as the first Olympian to accuse Nassar of abuse, Jamie Dantzscher, said he supported the figure proposed by USA Gymnastics, although he still believed it came lower and slower than it should have been due to USA Gymnastics’ bankruptcy application.
He said he wanted to see changes that would prevent bankruptcy from being used that way in the future. “These were not bad business decisions or a bad loan. This was systemically coordinated criminal behavior,” Manly said.
Jon Little, an Indiana-based attorney representing seven gymnasts who are suing the United States Gymnastics for the abuse of Larry Nassar or gymnastics coaches, also said the offer itself was reasonable, but that the question of how it would be paid still arose. up.
“I think this number, if fully funded, is a reasonable number, but it needs to be fully funded before we can talk about it,” Little said.
A $ 215 million January 2020 offer was widely criticized by Nassar victims for being inadequate in terms of the number of victims and the extent of the mistakes made by USA Gymnastics and USOPC in their practice over the years and their response to knowledge of complaints against Nassar.
Revelations about various institutions’ response to concerns about Nassar have flowed out over the years, including: that USA Gymnastics conducted a secret, five-week internal investigation into concerns about Nassar before going to law enforcement; that once contacted, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s own response had failed in several ways; and that U.S. Olympic officials were early brought to the attention of the Nassar accusers within the United States Gymnastics, but essentially ignored them.
The Michigan State Settlement was one of the largest in American sports history, overshadowing the more than $ 100 million issued by Pennsylvania State University to settle civil claims filed by more than 30 men who said they had been sexually assaulted. abused by retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Write to Louise Radnofsky at email@example.com
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