In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, the Northwest Herald newspaper will not be published May 28. Breaking news and information will be updated on NWHerald.com.
Nation & World

Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to settle Nassar claims

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2018, file photo, former Gov. John Engler speaks after Michigan State's Board of Trustees met and voted to name him as their interim president in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State University has reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who say they were sexually assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history. The deal was announced Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by Michigan State and lawyers for the 332 victims. (Dale G.Young//Detroit News via AP)
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2018, file photo, former Gov. John Engler speaks after Michigan State's Board of Trustees met and voted to name him as their interim president in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State University has reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who say they were sexually assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history. The deal was announced Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by Michigan State and lawyers for the 332 victims. (Dale G.Young//Detroit News via AP)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex abuse case in sports history, officials announced Wednesday.

The deal surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, although the Nassar deal involves far more victims.

“We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories,” said Brian Breslin, chairman of Michigan State’s governing board. “We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention.”

It’s not clear how much each victim will receive, although the money will not be divided equally. It’s also unclear where the money will come from. University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said school leaders now will work on a way to pay the bill.

Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, who in 2016 was the first woman to publicly identify herself as a victim, said the agreement “reflects the incredible damage which took place on MSU’s campus.” But she said she still has not seen any “meaningful reform” at the university.

Nassar treated campus athletes and scores of young gymnasts at his Michigan State office, building an international reputation while working at the same time for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

The university and lawyers for 332 victims announced the deal after negotiating privately with the help of a mediator. Under the agreement, $425 million will be paid to current claimants and $75 million will be set aside for any future claims. Lawyers also will be compensated out of the $500 million pool.

Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school had insisted that no one covered up assaults, although Nassar’s boss, former medical school dean William Strampel, later was charged with failing to properly supervise him and committing his own sexual misconduct.

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls under the guise of treatment and was caught with child pornography. He is serving three prison sentences that likely will keep him locked up for life.

More than 250 women and girls gave statements in court when Nassar was sentenced in January and February. Since then, even more accusers have stepped forward, which accounts for the larger number of people covered by the Michigan State agreement.

Nassar’s assaults mostly were committed in Michigan at his Lansing-area home, campus clinic and area gyms. But his accusers also said he molested them at a gymnastics-training ranch in Texas and at national and international competitions. Nassar’s work far away from campus was spelled out in his employment contract with Michigan State.

During the sentencing hearings, many accusers described an ultra-competitive gymnastics culture in which authority figures could not be questioned and Nassar was free to abuse young patients year after year. They said they had little choice to see doctors other than Nassar, who was renowned throughout the sport.

He counted on his charm and reputation to deflect any questions. He was so brazen that he sometimes molested patients in front of their parents, shielding the young girls with his body or a sheet. His clinic was decorated with signed photos of Olympic stars, bolstering his credentials to star-struck athletes and their families.

Olympic gold medalists Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney have said they were among Nassar’s victims.

“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,” said John Manly, the lead attorney for the victims.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.