Hundreds of women sexually abused by disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar have tentatively agreed to a $500 million (£370.4 million) settlement with Michigan State University, Nassar's former employer, attorneys for both sides said on Wednesday. The settlement covers 332 girls and young women sexually abused by Nassar.
The settlement is the largest ever for a university for a sexual-assault case, dwarfing the $109 million paid by Penn State University to at least 33 victims in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
"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, another attorney for numerous victims. The first Nassar lawsuits were filed in fall 2016, shortly after Nassar was sacked from MSU. "There was a monster operating with impunity at Michigan State for years, and no one did anything". She says she is also disappointed that a resolution hasn't been reached with other organizations such as USA Gymnastics.
Prior to today's settlement announcement ESPN said that it was awarding one of the network's most prestigious honors, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, to Nassar victims. Outcry over the case prompted the resignation of university president Lou Anna Simon and the abrupt retirement of athletic director Mark Hollis. Denhollander reacted to the settlement with a statement on her Facebook page.
A lawyer for Michigan State, Robert Young, said, "Michigan State is pleased that we have been able to agree in principle on a settlement that is fair to the survivors of Nassar's crimes". She says many survivors "still have no voice". I am thankful that the litigation phase is over so that my sisters and I can move forward. State and capital appropriations were valued at $338 million.
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Trustee Brian Breslin, chairman of MSU's governing board, said the school is "truly sorry" for what victims and their families went through and says the school recognizes a "need for change" in sexual assault awareness and prevention.
During a remarkable series of court hearings, dozens of women came forward to speak against Nassar as well as the institutions that they said protected him, including Michigan State.
He was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges, 40 to 175 years in prison on sexual assault charges and 40 to 125 years in prison on additional sexual assault charges.
Numerous young women who survived Larry Nassar's sexual abuse weren't just angry at what he had done to them, but at the institutions they felt had enabled him.