Michigan State University has reached a settlement of $500 million with 332 women and girls who allege they were sexually assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex abuse case in sports history.
The terms of the deal, announced Wednesday by Michigan State and lawyers for the victims following private negotiations with the help of a mediator, includes $425 million paid to current claimants and $75 million set aside in case additional lawsuits are filed against the school, reports WCVB.
Michigan State has been accused of failing to protect Nassar’s victims by ignoring or dismissing complaints against him as far back as the 90’s. The school has insisted no one covered up the assaults.
“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. We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention,” the MSU Board of Trustees said in a statement regarding the settlement. “A successful resolution to the litigation is a positive step in moving us all forward. We will continue working as a Board to address the necessary changes and improvements that are needed at our university.”
The announcement did not indicate how much money each victim would receive and also doesn’t say how Michigan State will pay the bill.
“This is the most accomplished I have felt in a long time,” tweeted Lindsey Lemke, one of the Nassar survivors. “I’ve never devoted myself to something more in my life than to fight for justice from institutions who hold more power than what is imaginable. But we did it. Not the end, but this is victory.”
The settlement greatly surpasses the estimated $109 million Penn State University paid to settle claims by at least 35 people that assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused boys. Sandusky was 68 years old in 2012 when he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for the sexual abuse of ten boys.
Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls under the guise of treatment and was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. Nassar had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges.
Wednesday’s settlement only includes accusations against Michigan State. Lawsuits are still active against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee. There are also currently 150 civil lawsuits filed against Nassar.
MSU Facing Additional Costs Related to Nassar Abuse
As of late April, MSU is also facing upwards of $11.3 million in legal costs associated with the Nassar scandal, according to the Lansing State Journal.
Nine law firms have billed MSU for work done in defending the school in hundreds of lawsuits, handling internal investigations, investigations by state and federal agencies or for dealing with the university’s insurance providers, according to documents MSU provided to the State Journal in response to public records requests.
The total cost for legal expenses is likely to increase as there has been a delay in the law firms billing the university and in the university releasing the records.
The newest invoices provided through a public records request does not include any from law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which has billed MSU the most to date.
Additionally, the school spent more than $1 million on public relations firms and more than $500,000 on a fund to provide counseling services to victims.
MSU also launched a $10 million fund to support Nassar’s victims abused at the school’s health clinic or any MSU student-athletes he abused. As of April 30, the fund has paid out more than $522,000.
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