USA Gymnastics is done with the legal dispute between them and Larry Nassar, a former national team doctor, for victims of sexual abuse.
The fight for substantive change within the sport’s national governing body is just beginning.
The Monday settlement reached by USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and hundreds of victims was confirmed in a Federal Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis. It ends one part of what has been called the worst sexual abuse scandal in U.S. Olympic Movement history.
Continue reading: An Early Survivor of Larry Nassar’s Abuse Speaks Out For the First Time
The tentative settlement reached in September was approved by more than 90% of victims. The original settlement was for $425m in damages. However, the court conditionally approved a $380m modified settlement. Nassar abused more than 300 victims, while the victims remaining were abused in one way or another by USA Gymnastics employees.
But the financial impact is only part of it. USA Gymnastics will continue to make victims of abusers financially viable through several non-monetary provisions. 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.
“Individually and collectively, survivors have stepped forward with bravery to advocate for enduring change in this sport,” USA Gymnastics president Li Li Leung said in a statement after the settlement was approved. “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.”
Hundreds of girls and women have said Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, and a Michigan gym that’s a USA Gymnastics member.
In federal court, he pleaded guilty for child pornography charges. Then, in state court, he admitted to the sexual assault of female gymnasts. He was sentenced in 2018 at 40 to 175 year in prison.
Rachael denhollander was the first person to report sexual abuse by Nassar in fall 2016.
“It’s not about money, it’s about change,” Denhollander told The Associated PressInterview conducted by phone on Monday. “It’s about an accurate assessment of what went wrong so that it is safer for the next generation.”
Continue reading: Larry Nassar’s First Publicly Acused Woman
Since the beginning of the scandal, Denhollander was one of the most vocal Nassar victims. It was vital to let go of the legal proceedings, so that women can continue with their lives without being harmed.
“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. This reality had to be balanced with how long it took. We felt it was in the best interest of everyone to accept this settlement … so that survivors would receive some semblance of justice.”
Denhollander stated that some medical services are not covered under certain insurance policies. Part of the financial burden will be relieved by the settlement.
This settlement is almost four years following an emotional Michigan sentencing hearing where hundreds of Michigan women spoke out about their experience with Nassar, and how much it affected 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.”
Denhollander described the five-plus years from when she first approached reporters at the Indianapolis Star to Monday as “hellish.”
“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 happen… it should have never taken five years.”
Continue reading: Simone Biles is TIME’s 2021 Athlete of the Year
USA Gymnastics filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November 2018, in order to consolidate all the lawsuits it was facing. In the wake of the bankruptcy filing, the USOPC was forced to stop its decertification against USA Gymnastics.
In the interim, the organization underwent a major leadership change and will continue that way going forward.