USA Gymnastics has offered $215 million (194 million euros) to victims of sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar to settle legal claims, a plan the attorney for more than 200 women called “unconscionable.”
The offer was unveiled on Thursday in a 76-page reorganization plan filed by the US sport governing body with the US bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Indiana.
Olympic gymnasts are among more than 300 people who have sued USA Gymnastics for failure to properly safeguard them from Nassar, who in 2018 was sentenced to 40-125 years in prison for abusing female gymnasts while supposedly treating them.
USA Gymnastics, which hopes to escape bankruptcy protection before the July start of the Tokyo Olympics, says women abused by Nassar can vote as a group to accept $215 million to settle all claims or continue to pursue lawsuits and collect judgments from the organization’s insurance policies – with the option preferred collectively applying to all with abuse claims.
“It has always been our goal to reach a consensual settlement agreement with all of our creditors through the bankruptcy process,” said USA Gymnastics president and chief executive Li Li Leung.
“While we do not yet have an agreement with the Committee representing the survivors, we still hope to reach an agreement. This plan allows for ongoing negotiations among the parties and we are hopeful that continued discussions will lead to an agreement that is supported by all parties in the case.”
John Manly, an attorney for more than 200 athletes who accused Nassar, told the New York Times and Indianapolis Star the plan was “unconscionable.”
“Speaking to my clients and other lawyers, there’s a better chance of (US President) Donald Trump endorsing (political rival) Bernie Sanders than the victims accepting this offer,” Manly told the Times.
Manly, whose clients include Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, also blasted the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for not taking the matter seriously enough at the time.
“It’s time we all begin to question why USOPC’s sponsors continue to support an organization so blatantly indifferent to sexual assault of little girls & women,” Manly tweeted.
Manly told the Star the plan showed “an ongoing and blatant disregard” for more than 500 women who participate in its programs.
“This proposed plan does not include the critical structural changes necessary to ensure the safety of girls moving forward, nor does it appropriately address the myriad physical and emotional challenges the victims face as a result of these crimes,” Manly told the Star.
“Most disturbingly, this proposed plan attempts to absolve USOPC of any responsibility for these crimes which were committed under its watch.”