Athletes Lawyer

Keeping You In The Game

Justice Dept. settles last major Nassar abuse case

On Behalf of | May 5, 2024 | Current Events |

One-hundred and thirty-nine victims of convicted Team USA doctor Larry Nassar can close another chapter in reaching a civil settlement of a 2022 lawsuit that alleged that FBI agents bungled the initial investigation. A 2021 inspector general report found that FBI agents did not act upon credible complaints and take proper investigative steps in 2015, leaving Nassar to continue his behavior for several more months. The agents have all been fired or chosen retirement rather than face criminal charges for the egregious lack of judgment.

“These allegations should have been taken seriously from the outset. While these settlements won’t undo the harm Nassar inflicted, our hope is that they will help give the victims of his crimes some of the critical support they need to continue healing,” Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin Mizer said in a statement announcing the settlement.

This Justice Dept. settlement likely signals the end of one of the largest abuse scandals in U.S. history. It serves as a final rebuke to several public institutions charged with keeping girls and women athletes safe. Along with the FBI agents, several other officials have stepped down or been fired for failing to act.

$1 billion in settlements

The 2024 settlement is on top of 2018’s $500 million paid by Michigan State University to 332 women and girls abused by Nassar while he was on MSU’s staff – athletes lodged complaints as far back as the 1990s with school counselors, coaches and trainers, but school officials did not act. There was also $380 million paid by the USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in 2021, who also employed Nassar. The organization was initially forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy but subsequently paid the settlement.

These settlements do not make up for the abuse and trauma endured by the hundreds of victims, but they do highlight the institutional obligation involved. The size of the settlement will ideally ensure that no organization will allow someone like Nassar to act with impunity ever again.

Nassar is currently serving multiple sentences in a Florida prison for sexual abuse and child pornography.