USA Gymnastics and a court-appointed committee representing the sexual abuse victims of former national team doctor Lawrence G. Nassar filed a joint plan Tuesday that would allow the federation to come out of bankruptcy and seek a settlement of $425 million would include those in sports who have been victims of abuse.
The plan, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana, would end the onslaught of Nassar-related lawsuits against the federation and would kill the roughly 500 gymnasts — including Olympians such as Simone Biles and Aly Raisman — involved in the proceedings. were involved compensate those who say they have been harmed by someone in the sport.
Many athletes who have been abused by Nassar, who harassed them under the guise of medical treatment, have been in mediation with the federation since 2018, when USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy protection as a way to settle the growing number of claims and compensate victims.
The $425 million bid in the current plan is nearly double the amount USA Gymnastics offered as a settlement in early 2020, when it proposed to give $215 million to the Nassar victims. That plan was immediately dismissed as too low-key by many Nassar survivors, and it was also rejected by the courts, in part because third parties, such as the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, did not contribute any money.
To make the current plan official, all insurance companies involved in the settlement, including the company that insures Martha and Bela Karolyi, the former coordinators of the women’s national team, must agree to fund the $425 million payout. The bankruptcy court should also approve the plan and the individual victims will vote on it. A majority of the plaintiffs would have to accept the plan, and that majority must account for at least two-thirds of the monetary settlement.
In an emailed statement on Tuesday, USA Gymnastics expressed confidence in the proposal.
“After extensive discussions, this plan has been jointly proposed by USA Gymnastics and the committee,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement, citing the committee of sexual abuse survivors involved in the negotiations. Many of the insurers also support it, the federation said. “We expect this plan to be confirmed later this year and greatly appreciate the efforts of all parties to reach this point.”
The current settlement offer is much lower than the $500 million that Michigan State University has agreed to pay the more than 300 girls and women abused by Nassar, a longtime university employee. But Rachael Denhollander, who was abused by Nassar and is a member of the survivors’ committee that helped negotiate the proposal submitted to court on Tuesday, said the current plan is about more than just money.
“I will say that the survivors deserve help with their medical care, and therapy is not cheap, so I think they deserve compensation,” she said. “But it would also be in everyone’s interest to see real changes and reforms taking place in the organization. That’s what we hoped for. Change was our goal.”
Denhollander said the Survival Committee only accepted the plan after USA Gymnastics approved a list of amenities aimed at reforming the organization and making the sport safer for its athletes. Calls for the creation of a truth and justice commission, which would investigate how Nassar could have operated in the organization for so long and molested so many athletes, and devise ways to prevent and enable such abuse, from again to happen.
“The non-monetary provisions of this plan are absolutely essential,” Denhollander said. “It is reform and change for the next generation. If USAG does indeed work with survivors to implement these provisions, that would be groundbreaking.”