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Simone Biles and Aly Raisman react angrily to settlement in Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal

Simone Biles, Aly Raisman
Simone Biles, left, and Aly Raisman embrace after clinching their gold and silver medals in the women’s gymnastics all-around event during the 2016 Olympics.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Two of the biggest names in American gymnastics are lashing back at a proposed $215-million settlement that would go to victims in the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

Simone Biles and Aly Raisman are angry that the proposal — which would divide money between 517 athletes who have sued USA Gymnastics — precludes any future lawsuits against the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and other key figures.

Victims have claimed the USOPC tried to hide the Nassar abuses or, at the very least, failed to act sufficiently in protecting athletes.

“Still want answers from USAG and USOPC,” Biles posted on social media over the weekend. “Wish they BOTH wanted an independent investigation as much as the survivors and I do.”

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Raisman tweeted: “The problem is USAG & [USOPC] don’t want anyone to know. This is a massive cover up.”

The gymnasts are among hundreds of young athletes who have come forward with accusations that Nassar — working in various capacities for USAG, Michigan State and the U.S. Olympic team — molested them under the guise of medical treatment.

The disgraced sports doctor is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to charges of sexual assault and possession of child pornography.

Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel, who represents more than two dozen survivors of the sexually abusive Nassar, said this in response to USA Gymnastics’ offer of a $215 million settlement:

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“USA Gymnastics and the USOC’s failure to fully understand and rectify the wrongs done to these women on their watch shows they have not really turned over a new leaf at all. The recent plan is simply another public move by USAG to try to adjust the public perception of the sport and the governing body. When in reality, if you pull back the curtain, the cultural problems in the sport persist and remain largely unaddressed, problems that allowed Nassar to abuse young girls for decades. For example, Safesport remains underfunded, survivors remain outside the circle of decision making, and both the process and timeframe for investigating allegations of abuse, remain grossly inadequate.”

Rocked by the scandal, USAG underwent a leadership overhaul and filed for bankruptcy in December 2018, a move that officials claimed would expedite handling of the lawsuits.

Victims have until early May to approve the proposed settlement, which would disburse compensation based on the severity of abuse that each victim suffered. Payments could range well above $1 million for the most-serious cases.

“It has always been our goal to reach a consensual settlement agreement with all of our creditors through the bankruptcy process,” USAG president Li Li Leung said in January. “While we do not yet have an agreement with the committee representing the survivors, we still hope to reach an agreement.”

By agreeing, victims would release not only the USOPC but also Steve Penny, the former USAG chief executive, and former national team coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi from future claims.

John C. Manly, an Orange County attorney who represents more than 200 Nassar victims, had previously voiced his opposition to the settlement.

“This plan from USAG is not just unworkable,” he said. “It is unconscionable.”


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