US Justice Dept to pay $139 mn to USA Gymnastics sex abuse victims

Larry Nassar was jailed for upto 175 years for abuse (SCOTT OLSON)
Larry Nassar was jailed for upto 175 years for abuse (SCOTT OLSON)

The United States Justice Department said Tuesday it had agreed to pay almost $139 million to victims of sex abuser Larry Nassar, for its bungled investigation into the former USA Gymnastics team doctor.

For nearly two decades, Nassar subjected hundreds of people to abuse under the guise of performing medical treatment.

His victims included Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and other top names in the sport.

Despite complaints, the FBI initially did not act, and Nassar continued to act with impunity.

He was ultimately convicted in late 2017 and early 2018 of sexually assaulting hundreds of athletes, and is serving up to 175 years in prison.

"For decades... Nassar abused his position, betraying the trust of those under his care and medical supervision while skirting accountability," said Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin Mizer, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice on Tuesday.

"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."

Nassar worked as a sports medicine doctor at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University for more than two decades.

Biles, Raisman, Maroney and other US gymnasts filed a $1 billion claim against the FBI in June 2022 over its failures.

Tuesday's announcement covers 139 claims, and will distribute a total of $138.7 million, the DoJ said.

The resolution comes after a July 2021 report by the department's Office of the Inspector General that was critical of aspects of the FBI's response to, and investigation of, allegations against Nassar.

The Wall Street Journal has previously reported that this included complaints about Nassar made by USA Gymnastics to the FBI's Indianapolis field office in July 2015.

The failure to act on the complaints allowed Nassar to continue sexually assaulting dozens of victims before his 2016 arrest.

Nassar's victims reached a $380 million settlement with USA Gymnastics in 2021, one of the largest ever recorded for victims of sex abuse.

USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after a tidal wave of allegations against Nassar swamped the organization.

Michigan State University reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of Nassar's victims in 2018.

Nassar was stabbed by another inmate in July of last year at the prison in Florida where he is serving his sentence, but recovered from his wounds.