Hundreds of female gymnasts who were sexually abused by US Gymnastics former team doctor Larry Nassar have reached a £288m ($380m) settlement with the US Olympic and Paralympic committee.
The verdict was announced on Monday during USA Gymnastics’ bankruptcy proceedings in US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana, with the settlement among the largest ever for a sexual abuse case.
Over 90 percent of the victims, who number more than 500 people, voted in favour of the initial agreement in September which called for £322m ($425m) in damages but was modified under conditional approval by the courts.
The funds will seek to compensate these victims, including Olympic gold medallists Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.
More than 300 of those compensated were victims of Nassar, while the others suffered abuse by others within USA gymnastics in some way.
But Rachael Denhollander, a Nassar survivor and the first to speak out on the former Osteopathic physician, stressed that no financial sum would ever make up for what happened to the victims.
The former gymnast turned lawyer stated: “No amount of money will ever repair the damage that has been done and what these women have been through.
“But at some point, the negotiations have to end because these women need help –– and they need it now.”
Denhollander also emphasised that this “chapter” is now over and the “hard work” of reform could now begin. One provision of the settlement agreement is that at least one Nassar survivor would serve on the federation’s board of directors, while another is that there will be an independent accounting of what went wrong in the Nassar case, and why that happened.
“MSU has consistently still refused to work with survivors. My hope is that the story will be different for USAG and USOPC.
“Now is the chance to set a model for true restorative justice and reform.
“This chapter has closed, but the work of real restoration is just beginning.”
Many were keen to praise Denhollander for her bravery in coming forward and endorsed her calls for reform.
One Twitter user wrote: “Couldn't agree more Rachael Denhollander. Financial restitution is only the first step for true and meaningful amends and reform. Young athletes deserve to train and compete in safe, healthy environments that foster joy and flow.”
Meanwhile, Denhollander’s husband, Jacob, exemplified his admiration for his wife and all she had done to help the cause:
“I am so proud of Rachael and the huge amounts of effort she puts into fighting for truth and justice both in and out of the spotlight,” he said.
“The non-monetary commitments to truth and transparency are something she and fellow survivors spent so much time and effort on.”
USAG President and CEO Li Li Leung also spoke on the settlement and plans for the future.
“USA Gymnastics is deeply sorry for the trauma and pain that Survivors have endured as a result of this organization's actions and inactions. The Plan of Reorganization that we jointly filed reflects our own accountability to the past and our commitment to the future.
"Individually and collectively, Survivors have stepped forward with bravery to advocate for enduring change in this sport. 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."
USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in November 2018 in an attempt to consolidate the lawsuits filed against it into one place. The $380 million settlement will now help the federation emerge from bankruptcy after years of uncertainty.News Now - Sport News