Second-Wave Larry Nassar Victims Subjected to Unequal Treatment by MSU
June 12, 2019
Some of the Larry Nassar victims were barely 10 years old when their nightmare began. Parents and coaches knew him as the “go-to” healer for young gymnasts with big Olympic dreams. Instead, over two decades, he sexually assaulted hundreds of women and girls under the guise of providing legitimate medical care.
Today, more than 100 of these Larry Nassar victims have been treated unfairly by Michigan State University. Here’s how they’re fighting back.
Background of Nassar Abuse
A few years ago, Nassar’s victims began coming forward to describe their ordeals. As details of his heinous acts were revealed, prosecutors charged him with first-degree criminal sexual conduct—a felony. During trials in Ingham and Eaton counties, more than 150 women gave gut-wrenching testimony about Nassar’s abuse and its lasting effects on their lives. Nassar was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 40 – 175 years in federal prison for sexual assault and child pornography charges.
Last year, 330 Larry Nassar victims filed civil suits against Michigan State University, where Nassar had been a physician for the women’s gymnastics team. These victims claimed the university had failed to take appropriate action against Nassar, despite receiving numerous complaints over the years.
Consequently, the university allotted $500 million to compensate the initial victims as well as future plaintiffs. From that amount, $425 million was allocated to the first 330 victims. While not everyone received the same amount, the average settlement would be approximately $1.2 million each if divided equally.
The remaining $75 million was set aside for future lawsuits as well as the university’s legal fees.
MSU Offers Inequitable Settlements to “Wave 2” Victims
Earlier this year, more than 100 additional survivors filed suit against MSU. Their compensation will be paid out of the remaining $75 million, after the university deducts its legal fees. Therefore, these “Wave 2” Larry Nassar victims will receive approximately $400,000 each, one-third the amount earlier plaintiffs received. What is more, these survivors claim the university is pressuring them to accept the proffered compensation. However, these former MSU students are fighting back against the institution they claim should have done more to protect them.
The victims’ lawyers claim MSU officials, including former interim President John Engler, deliberately underfunded the compensation reserves. They say the university should have known how many additional victims were likely to file suit based on student medical records. The attorneys also claim MSU’s actions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Michigan Constitution.
Why the “Wave 2” Victims Waited to Come Forward
MSU put a deadline on the remaining survivors after the first wave was settled. The additional survivors had a limited amount of time to come forward and file a case. If these women did not come forward within the timeline MSU laid out, they would not be able to receive justice for the abuse they suffered.
This group of survivors say they did not come forward sooner because they were still traumatized by the abuse they endured. They say knowing Nassar will spend the rest of his life behind bars cannot undo the damage he caused them. Years later, many suffer from anxiety, depression, nightmares and panic attacks. Some have been unable to pursue their chosen careers or sustain healthy relationships.
Now, they only want to be treated the same as the original plaintiffs. And their lawyers are fighting to make that happen.
To this day, the remaining survivors are still waiting on MSU to stand behind their promises and make their wrongs right.