Michigan State reportedly settles with Larry Nassar sexual abuse victims for $500 million
The university has been heavily criticized for its handling of the Nassar scandal
Hundreds of lawsuits against Michigan State University for damages from continuous predatory behavior by disgraced doctor Larry Nassar have been settled, with the school ultimately paying a combined $500 million to victims of Nassar's sexual assault crimes, according to The Detroit Free Press. Of the $500 million, $425 million will be paid out now, while another $75 million will be held in reserve.
Nassar, who is in jail for life, which include and the listened to over 150 victim impact statements in January, in which survivor after survivor described her experience with Nassar and the damage that his medical "treatments," which masked his sexual abuse crimes, caused.
The Nassar fallout has shaken Michigan State to its core, with major changes occurring at the top and the school being criticized for its handling of the fallout. The USA Gymnastics board was dismantled by the trial as well, with the entire board beingfollowing the trial. For MSU, president Lou Anna Simon resigned after intense public pressure, and athletic director Mark Hollis was forced to "retire." Nassar's former boss, William Strampel, for failing to monitor Nassar despite repeated warnings to do so -- not to mention accusations of sexual assault of his own -- and Kathie Klages resigned after the former Spartans gymnastics coach was suspended for defending Nassar.
Per The Free Press, how Michigan State pays out the settlement will be surveyed closely. Interim president John Engler wants the costs to be paid for by tuition and state aid, however, lawmakers do not want state aid to be used in the settlement. Of course, this does hurt the university's bottom line. S&P Global Ratings dropped Michigan State's outlook to negative in March, with analyst Ashley Ramchandani claiming that the uncertainty surrounding the school in terms of senior leadership and pending investigations casts a shroud on its financial status.
There have been other effects of the Nassar case outside of Michigan State itself. The aforementioned resignation of the leadership of USA Gymnastics, the resignation of USOC CEO Scott Blackmun (which was in part due to diagnosis of prostate cancer and in part due to public pressure to resign), and the departure of USA Gymnastics from the famed Karolyi Ranch, where much of Nassar's abuse went on, are some of the major changes we've seen resulting from Nassar's very public conviction.
Michigan State's settlement dwarfs the settlements paid out by Penn State, another Big Ten school, to the victims of Jerry Sandusky in terms of volume, but not ratio. As of last November, Penn State had reportedly paid out $109 million to Sanducky's victims. The initial settlement was $93 million for 33 people, which then led to another $16 million. For better perspective, Nassar's 265 victims are looking at about $1,886,792 per person. Penn State's 33 victims in the initial trial received about $2,818,181.
In regards to Nassar's victims, Jamie White -- a representative of dozens of the women that confirmed the settlement -- said: "I don't think they can ever be made whole, but this is a step in the right direction," per The Free Press.
While this marks another closed chapter on the Nassar saga, Michigan State continues to face public scrutiny for its alleged complicity in Nassar's abuse. Powerful victim statements from the likes of a McKayla Maroney spokeswoman and Aly Raisman only strengthened the fervor against Michigan State, with Raisman's speech in particular going after the institutions that allowed this abuse to happen.
"And please, your honor, stress the need to investigate how this happened," she said during the conclusion of her statement in January. "So we can hold accountable those who empowered and enabled Larry Nassar. So we can repair and once again believe in this wonderful sport."
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