Dr. Larry Nassar got 175 years in prison for systematically abusing vulnerable girls and women gymnasts over several years. He did this while working as the team doctor for the national gymnastics team and other capacities. More than 500 current and former gymnasts eventually came forward to bring the atrocity to an end.
The civil court case now concludes with a $380 million settlement with U.S.A. Gymnastics and The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. This settles one of the most extensive sexual abuse and child molestation cases in history. Certainly, the largest abuse scandal settlement attributed to one person — Michigan State, another Nassar employer, promised $500 million to its student-athletes.
“No amount of money will ever repair the damage that has been done and what these women have been through,” said Rachael Denhollander, a Nassar survivor and member of a survivors’ committee involved in the settlement negotiations. “But at some point, the negotiations have to end because these women need help — and they need it right now.”
The Nassar case spawned a complete reevaluation of competitive sports and coaching at all levels. Outside of Nassar, young elite-level athletes can find themselves victims of abuse by some coaches and staff.
When victims of Nassar spoke up, they were typically ignored — even the FBI did not take early allegations about Nassar seriously. As mentioned by Denhollander, this abuse led to trauma, pain and other issues for the victims.
USA Gymnastics reshuffles
Taking a page from the Boy Scouts of America and many American dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church, U.S.A. Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy. It will pay part of the settlement (insurance companies will cover about 90% of it) and reorganize to move forward to serve the gymnastics community better.
Closure for all
The good news is that there is closure after five years of lawsuits and charges. Nassar is already in jail, but now victims will have the support (financial and otherwise) they need to start the next chapter in their lives. The institutions have also been in turmoil, so they can move on, hopefully, armed with the insight to thoughtfully and swiftly address complaints and accusations against staff should they arise in the future.