The trustees of Michigan State University have agreed to settle sexual abuse lawsuits concerning Dr. Larry Nassar for $500 million. The settlement will pay $425 million to the 332 girls and women who have come forward to date, averaging about $1.28 million per victim. Michigan State will set aside an additional $75 million in a trust fund for any victims who come forward in the future.
The proactive measure stands in stark contrast to the decades of denial and possible cover-up of Nassar’s behavior when he worked as a physician on Michigan State University’s campus. The NY Times said the MSU settlement dwarfs other abuse settlements while the Washington Post opined that the settlement and the entire Nassar saga has had a significant impact on the university.
“The impact of the scandal on the university, which has about 39,000 undergraduate students, has been substantial, including the resignations of President Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis in January, and may extend beyond the financial. The settlement surpasses the more than $109 million paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse.”
The settlement applies to only Michigan State. The U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and famed former Olympic coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi all still face lawsuits filed by Nassar victims, who include Olympians Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas.
The settlement negotiated through mediation is not only significant because of the amount paid to survivors but the additional $75 million placed into a trust fund to cover future payments for any survivors who have yet to come forward. In so doing, the university acknowledged that Nassar may have abused more young women and is prepared to deal with that fact. Since Nassar admitted that he used his position and authority to gain access to unsuspecting young athletes for decades, there very well may be more women victimized by Nassar at Michigan State University.
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