Larry Nassar is set to spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to child porn and to seven counts sexual assault of a minor during his time as a doctor at Michigan State, USA Gymnastics, and the US Olympic Team. For its part in allowing a predator to continue working, Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with the 300 women who had been victimized by Nassar during his employment at the school. USA Gymnastics, which has been sued by 517 victims, is looking to avoid that same fate.
USA Gymnastics has proposed a $215 million settlement, which would be divided amongst all the victims. The amount would not be equally distributed, but would instead “disburse compensation based on the severity of abuse that each victim suffered,” according to the LA Times. According to a breakdown of the settlement on Bleacher Report, a “non-elite” gymnast that was abused by Nassar at a USAG sanctioned event could be awarded about $508,000, while a member of the Olympic team could receive double that.
The settlement comes with a terrible catch: It would bar any gymnast from future litigation against Beta and Martha Karolyi, former coaches for the national team, Steve Penny, a former chief executive for USAG and finally the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee—all parties that were allegedly aware of Nassar’s abuse. Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, who each stand to make upwards of $1 million under this new suit, have called the proposed deal a cover-up by USAG and the Olympic committee.
Raisman, who has a total of six Olympic medals, has been vocal about USAG’s mishandling of the Nassar scandal, ever since she revealed that she had been victimized. During a USA Today interview, Raisman said of the governing body, “We did the best that we could, and we won gold medals for Team USA and we’re asking them now to work really hard and to do the right thing by us. And we don’t feel that same effort from them.” Raisman has called the settlement “offensive” and is asking for USAG and the USOPC to release all of the documents and data related to Nassar’s abuse, “in order to make change we need to know exactly went wrong,” she added, defending why she wanted the information released.
Biles, who was crucial in reviving America’s waning relationship with gymnastics, is in a particularly precarious position. She will most likely be selected for the Tokyo Olympics, where Biles will have to compete and represent a committee that is hanging her and 516 other young women out to dry. Upon receiving the news, Biles tweeted from the airport, “Still want answers from USAG and USOPC. Wish they BOTH wanted an independent investigation as much as the survivors & I do.”
Biles is vital to the sport in a way few other gymnasts have been throughout history, yet she and all of the other victims are being treated by USAG as if they are irrelevant to the institution—as if USAG could even exist without the athletes who compete under their banner. In a comment to Insider, attorney John Manly said, “I wouldn’t recommend the acceptance of this plan to my worst enemy let alone my clients,” which seems like a perfect indicator for how the USAG views their athletes.