Today, it was announced that Michigan State University (MSU) reached a $500 million settlement with the 332 survivors assaulted by Larry Nassar, the former gymnastics doctor responsible for the biggest sexual assault scandal in sports. According to a press release from the university, $425 million dollars will be paid to current claimants, and $75 million dollars will be set aside in a trust fund to protect any future survivors who might come forward saying Nassar abused them.
In late January, it became clear that Michigan State University knew about Nassar's crimes for decades, but failed to do anything about it. And, in the week of Nassar's sentencing trial, William Forsyth, a retired Kent County prosecutor, took over an existing investigation into MSU to figure out how Nassar's abuse went on for so long undetected and to pinpoint which MSU officials knew about it.
The day after Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, Lou Anna Simon, the president of Michigan State University, resigned from her position. Some alleged she mishandled the Nassar scandal, and called her "tone deaf" to the severity of the crimes. In Simon's resignation, she directly apologized to the survivors: "To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment," she said. "I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere."
In a statement today, Forsyth said that the investigation is still "open and ongoing," but this settlement resolves the civil cases. Additionally, this settlement applies to the people who were involved with Michigan State University, and doesn't address the other claims against USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee, and the coaches who worked alongside Nassar. However, there are plans to continue settlement talks with those organizations soon, David Mittleman, an attorney for 111 of the plaintiffs, told USA Today.
This is just one step toward seeking justice for the hundreds of young survivors. Nassar's crimes revealed that this is a systemic issue that's deeply rooted in the culture of gymnastics. Still, this settlement brings some hope that the organizations responsible for enabling his crimes are held accountable for their actions. "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," John Manly, the attorney who represented Nassar's survivors said in the release. "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."
As Aly Raisman, gold medal Olympic gymnast and survivor of Nassar's abuse said: "We have to get to the bottom of how this disaster happened. If we don’t figure out how it did, we can’t be confident that it won’t happen again."