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Justice Department settles with Larry Nassar victims for $138.7 million

United States gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2021.    (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Will Hobson Washington Post

The Justice Department announced Tuesday it has agreed to pay nearly $139 million to victims of former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, settling legal claims brought over the department’s failure to investigate allegations that could have brought the convicted child molester to justice sooner and prevented dozens of assaults.

The settlement brings to a close the last major legal case over Nassar’s prolific abuses, which occurred over a span of more than a decade at international sporting events including the Olympics, as well as at Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, and at local gymnastics centers in Michigan and around the country.

Nassar, 60, is serving an effective life sentence for federal convictions relating to possession of child pornography, as well as state convictions for sexual assaults of patients under his care.

A 2021 Justice Department inspector general’s report found that FBI agents in both the Indianapolis and Los Angeles field offices failed to adequately respond to allegations against Nassar raised in 2015 and 2016. More than 70 girls and women later alleged in court filings that Nassar assaulted them between 2015 and when he was arrested in November 2016.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray publicly apologized to Nassar’s victims, and the bureau fired an agent in the Indianapolis office involved with the Nassar case.

In a news release Tuesday, the department said it had agreed to pay $138.7 million to resolve 139 legal claims over its handling of the Nassar case.

“For decades, Lawrence Nassar abused his position, betraying the trust of those under his care and medical supervision while skirting accountability,” Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer said in a statement. “These allegations should have been taken seriously from the outset. While these settlements won’t undo the harm Nassar inflicted, our hope is that they will help give the victims of his crimes some of the critical support they need to continue healing.”

Tuesday’s announcement brings the total sum paid out by institutions to Nassar’s victims over his abuses to nearly $1 billion. In 2018, Michigan State agreed to pay $500 million to more than 330 victims. And in 2021, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee agreed to pay $380 million to hundreds of Nassar’s victims.