USA Gymnastics Reaches $380M With Sex Abuse Victims, 90 Percent of Athletes Agree to Terms

USA Gymnastics and the victims of former team doctor Larry Nassar have reached a monumental settlement.

A federal bankruptcy court has confirmed that a $380 million settlement has been filed between USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and hundreds of Nassar's victims. Over 90 percent of the victims voted in favor of the settlement in September. More than 300 people were abused by Nassar during his tenures at USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and a popular Michigan training center affiliated with USA Gymnastics.

"Individually and collectively, survivors have stepped forward with bravery to advocate for enduring change in this sport," said USA Gymnastics president Li Li Leung in a statement upon the settlement's approval. "We are committed to working with them, and with the entire gymnastics community, to ensure that we continue to prioritize the safety, health and wellness of our athletes and community above all else."

Nassar has since pleaded guilty to sexual assault and child pornography. In 2018, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.

Among Nassar's accusers are Olympians Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman. However, the first accuser to go public with her story was Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and former gymnast who publicly accused Nassar of assault in 2016. She told The Associated Press in an interview that the settlement was a critical move that can allow survivors of the former doctor's abuses to seek the care they need.

"The frank reality is the longer this goes on, the more difficult it is for survivors," she said. "So many of these women, they can't access medical care without a settlement. We had to balance that reality with the length of time it was taking. We felt it was in the best interest of everyone to accept this that survivors would receive some semblance of justice."

Denhollander said she hopes that the settlement inspires industry-wide change when it comes to how to handle sexual abuse. Most importantly, however, she hopes that it will not take as long for others to seek justice.

"It's been hellish for all of us," she said. "To have to push for so long for the right things to take place, to have to push for so long to have justice should have never taken five years."

FBI Gymnastics Hearing
Dr. Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in 2019. Above, Senator Patrick Leahy (R) speaks with gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols as they leave after testifying during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Larry Nassar investigation, on September 15, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images

The legal wrangling between USA Gymnastics and the victims of sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar, among others, is over.

The fight for substantive change within the sport's national governing body is just beginning.

The original agreement called for $425 million in damages, but a modified settlement of $380 million was conditionally approved by the courts.

The financial fallout, however, is just one part of the equation. A series of nonmonetary provisions will make the victims stakeholders at USA Gymnastics going forward. The provisions include a dedicated seat on the organization's board of directors and a thorough look at the culture and practices within USA Gymnastics that allowed abusers like Nassar to run unchecked for years.

"It's not about money, it's about change," Denhollander said. "It's about an accurate assessment of what went wrong so that it is safer for the next generation."

The settlement comes nearly four years after an emotional sentencing hearing in Michigan in which hundreds of women detailed their experiences with Nassar and the toll it took on their lives.

"We prevailed for one simple reason, the courage and tenacity of the survivors," attorney John Manly, who represented dozens of women, said in a statement. "These brave women relived their abuse publicly, in countless media interviews, so that not one more child will be forced to suffer physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in pursuit of their dreams."

USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in November 2018 in an effort to consolidate the various lawsuits filed against it into one place. The move also forced the USOPC to halt the decertification process it began against USA Gymnastics.

The organization has undergone a massive leadership overhaul in the interim and the settlement will allow it to continue in that capacity going forward.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rachael Denhollander
The settlement comes four years after victims testified against Nassar. Above, former gymnast Rachael Denhollander speaks about Larry Nassar in Lansing, Michigan, on November 22, 2017. AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File