Michigan State University has complied with a $500 million settlement that involves hundreds of women and girls who contend gymnastics coach Larry Nassar sexually assaulted them, per the Lansing State Journal. MSU agreed to the settlement Tuesday night.
The lawsuits were filed in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan and state courts in California, where the victims allege that MSU, USA Gymnastics, and people involved in both institutions didn’t protect them from Nassar’s actions.
Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to come forward and accuse Nassar of abuse, and is seen by many of his victims as the reason they came forward, too. Together, they formed the “army of survivors” or “sister survivors” that they often call themselves.
“I am thankful that the historic settlement amount at least in part reflects the horrific nature of what took place at MSU,” Denhollander said in a statement. “However, I am deeply disappointed at the missed opportunity for meaningful reform and change at the University. My sisters and I have said from the beginning that coming forward was to push for accountability and needed reform, and there is much work left to be done.”
The settlement is only between the victims, MSU, and the university’s current and past employees, and doesn’t involve USA Gymnastics and other parties who have been sued.
“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, an attorney representing many of the victims. “It is the sincere hope of all of the survivors that the legacy of this settlement will be far reaching institutional reform that will end the threat of sexual assault in sports, schools and throughout our society.”
Nassar worked at MSU and USA Gymnastics for decades. Sexual assault claims were first lodged against the now-54-year-old in September 2016 by the Indianapolis Star, in a story that detailed Denhollander’s experience. Since then, nearly 300 women and girls have publicly accused Nassar of abuse, and almost all during medical appointments. While some of the abuse happened at MSU, others occurred at Twistars gymnastics club, Nassar’s home, or USA Gymnastics events.
Nassar has since been sentenced to a 60-year federal prison sentence on three child pornography charges. He was also handed 10 sexual assault charges in state courts, and sentenced to decades in prison.