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USA Gymnastics settles abuse claims involving former team doctor Larry Nassar


Yesterday was an important moment for the hundreds of female survivors of sexual abuse by former Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. They settled their claims against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. And as a result, they will be paid $380 million. The settlement ends a five-year legal case. NPR's Tom Goldman talked with me earlier about the details.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Survivors' attorney John Manly says the 380 million is the largest sexual abuse settlement against a sports organization in American history. There was an earlier settlement involving Michigan State University that paid out 500 million. Nassar worked at Michigan State for many years. The 880 million total paid to more than 500 victims of Nassar - that's a huge amount. And it's important for many survivors who continue to suffer from their abuse and who need mental health care. Now, with this payout, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and its insurers will contribute a reported $34 million and, as a result, get immunity from future gymnastics lawsuits. The settlement also allows USA Gymnastics to get out of bankruptcy and continue overseeing the sport.

MARTIN: So money doesn't change what happened, the abuse these girls suffered, so explain the other parts of the settlement.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Essentially, safeguards were put in place to prevent or at least make sexual abuse harder to commit, and some survivors say they're even more important than the money. At least one survivor will be on the USA Gymnastics board of directors and on committees dealing with health, wellness and safety. The board, especially, is a big deal. That's where important decisions get made in organizations. There are other provisions at the grassroots levels. Local clubs required - are required to take immediate steps to enhance athlete safety, including putting up posters and providing athletes and parents with pamphlets telling them how to report abuse, requiring club officials to know their reporting obligations and providing training about physical boundaries. USA Gymnastics will be required to monitor and audit clubs and coaches to make sure these and other safeguards happen.

MARTIN: So does this settlement, Tom - does this bring the end of the Larry Nassar legal cases?

GOLDMAN: You know, not necessarily. John Manly, who represents over 180 of the plaintiffs, including the most famous - Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney - he says they're demanding full justice. They want officials at the sports organizations who were in their jobs during the Larry Nassar scandal and still are removed. They want law enforcement agencies held accountable. It was revealed this year FBI agents knew about Nassar complaints, but didn't act. And here's John Manly.

JOHN MANLY: The fact that no one at the FBI has been indicted, no one at USOPC has been indicted and no one at USA Gymnastics has been indicted for what was a criminal conspiracy to protect this man and hide his crimes is an obscenity.

GOLDMAN: Now, Manly says he and his clients will address these issues, but he wouldn't tell me how.

MARTIN: Have the sports organizations themselves responded to the settlement?

GOLDMAN: Yeah. USA Gymnastics and the USOPC came out with similar statements praising the settlement. USOPC leader Sarah Hirshland said her organization recognizes its role in failing to protect the athletes, and she said it's enacted sweeping reforms to strengthen protections against any form of abuse.

MARTIN: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman, we appreciate your reporting.

GOLDMAN: Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF CORRE'S "FORWARD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.