Failures in the investigation: The United States reached a million-dollar settlement with 139 of Larry Nassar’s victims

The Department of Justice reported that it will pay them $138.7 million and pointed to the FBI’s actions after the first complaints: “They should have been taken seriously from the start.”

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The U.S. Department of Justice reported a $138.7 million settlement with 139 victims of sexual abuse by former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

The Department of Justice explained that “these agreements will resolve administrative claims against the United States” and stressed that the FBI “did not conduct an adequate investigation of Nassar’s conduct.”

The acting Deputy Attorney General, Benjamin C. Mizer, said in the statement that the accusations “should have been taken seriously from the start” and noted that “while these agreements will not remedy the damage that Nassar inflicted, our hope is that they will help provide victims of his crimes with some of the critical support they need to continue healing.”

Nassar was the doctor of the U.S. gymnastics team for 18 years and also served at the University of Michigan. In 2015, the Federation informed the FBI that three athletes had reported being abused, but the agency decided not to conduct a formal investigation. Finally, the doctor was arrested in 2016 after abusing hundreds of women under the pretext of performing treatments and ended up being sentenced to 175 years in prison.

Gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, in September 2021, testified in the investigation against Larry Nassar. Credit: Reuters.
Gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, in September 2021, testified in the investigation against Larry Nassar. Credit: Reuters.

“For decades, Lawrence Nassar abused his office, betraying the trust of those under his medical care and supervision and evading accountability,” Mizer said. The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, in 2021, had already issued a report outlining the actions of the FBI and how the investigation had been carried out.

This is not the first economic agreement with victims: Michigan State University agreed in 2018 to a payment of 500 million dollars with 332 complainants, while in 2021 the Federation reached a settlement with nearly 500 victims for 380 million dollars.

John Manly, lawyer for the victims of Nassar, told CNN after learning about the ruling: “It’s on a certain level to feel victorious, but also on a certain level a deep sadness to know that, if the FBI had acted when this was reported, more than 100 children would not have been abused by Larry Nassar. It brings to an end one of the darkest, if not the darkest, chapters in the history of American sports.”

Nassar’s victims include Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Sabrina Vega, Ashton Locklear, Kyla Ross and Alyssa Baumann.