Larry Nassar Victims Reach $380 Million Settlement with USA Gymnastics
The victims of Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics have settled for $380 million. A federal bankruptcy court approved the agreement between USA Gymnastics and US Olympic and Paralympics Committee and Nassar’s 300+ victims. The lawsuit is one of the largest sexual abuse scandals in US Olympic history. The settlement also requires that the abuse victims have dedicated seats on USA Gymnastics’ board of directors and other committee seats within the organization. USA Gymnastics has also had an extensive leadership overhaul and the settlement will allow it to continue in that capacity going forward.
Nassar has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors. Nassar penetrated young athletes with his bare hands when they sought treatment for injuries and child pornography crimes. He was sentenced to up to 175 years in federal prison in 2018, not counting the same prison term from another county in Michigan for similar charges. In essence, Nassar has two lifetime sentences in both federal and state court.
Was the Abuse Preventable?
USA Gymnastics and similar youth-serving organizations like the Boy Scouts of America arguably have a duty to protect children in their care from sexual predators like Nassar. USA Gymnastics and other organizations are sued when they fail to prevent predators from targeting children. Sexual predators are drawn to these organizations like moths to a light because they believe they can access to children that they otherwise would not have. Once inside, these predators can groom their targets and prime them for sexual contact.
Youth-serving organizations have a wide range of tools to curb sexual abuse. This may include maintaining a list of banned coaches, providing online education for athletes warning about sexual predators, maintaining a 24- hour anonymous hotline to report sexual abuse, and having mandatory reporters as employees and volunteers. If an organization has all these tools and fails to stop sexual abuse, the organization may not be liable. But if the organization fails to ensure that the proper tools are in place, they may be subject to significant liability.
Settlement Is Always Preferable to Bring About Change
Settlement is preferable over trial for many reasons. Most people assume because settlement is faster or because it removes the uncertainty of trial. However, trial in civil court only brings one of two outcomes: the defendants are either liable or they are not. One side will have to pay out money after a judgment is rendered. Although trial may bring out the truth, they do not always bring about change. Settlement offers flexibility that a trial would not. As this case shows, settlement offers the opportunity for parties to be creative about what kind of compensation they can ask for.
Where Can You Find a Sexual Assault Lawyer?
If you are accused of sexual assault, you should consult a skilled criminal defense lawyer in your area immediately to help protect your rights.
Victims of sexual assault can also contact a lawyer about possibly filing a civil suit against the person who sexually assaulted them. Civil liability can exist without or alongside criminal charges.