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USA Gymnastics settles with Nassar abuse victims

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Three hundred eighty million dollars - that is how much USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, along with their insurers, will pay the women who were sexually abused by former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar. The settlement comes after a five-year legal battle, and it includes a promise for USA Gymnastics and the Olympic Committee to designate some of their board seats to survivors. Attorney John Manly represents more than 180 of Nassar's survivors. He joins us now to talk about the settlement.

Mr. Manly, thanks for being here.

JOHN MANLY: Thanks for having me, Mary Louise.

KELLY: I mentioned you've been working on this for five years. Is this a good settlement?

MANLY: Yeah. It is an excellent settlement for the survivors. It is a defeat for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, who spent over $100 million in legal fees trying to defeat these women. I've never been prouder of a group of clients in my life, and I can tell you every American should be proud of these women for what they accomplished - not for a legal settlement, but for changing the face of the way we treat sex abuse survivors in this country, especially children.

KELLY: The number, again, $380 million comes along with the $500 million from Michigan State University, so a total of 880 million has been allotted for these women. Understanding, of course, that money cannot undo past wrongs, is this justice?

MANLY: I think it's justice in one sense. It gives these women, many of whom suffer daily with horrendous PTSD - some of these women, some of our Olympians were abused over a thousand times by him. Their entire childhood was Larry Nassar abusing them day in and day out for months on end, even at the Olympics. So, yes. But in another sense, no, it's incomplete justice. You know, the FBI, we now knew - now know knew for 17 months that Larry Nassar had molested McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and Maggie Nichols, who appeared before Congress to testify. And they did nothing. In fact, they did worse than nothing. They actively conspired with the leadership of USA Gymnastics and USOPC to cover it up. And the Justice Department - both the Trump Justice Department and the Biden Justice Department - have done absolutely nothing to hold them accountable.

KELLY: So it sounds like there's more you would like to see done in terms of how the case was handled by the FBI and other law enforcement - perhaps more litigation to come. What about the other development that I described - that board seats are going to go to Nassar survivors? How big a deal is that?

MANLY: That's massive. And I can tell you, I believe that the survivors gave up money to get that. You know, I can't discuss the mediation itself, but it's my personal belief that that occurred. And the reason that's important is because they fundamentally want to change the culture of money and medals being the only thing that matters because that way they can protect other women, girls and boys and men from this happening to them.

KELLY: We just have a few seconds left, but you mentioned you've never been prouder of the survivors than you are now. You've also said you told ESPN this is the case you are most proud of. Why?

MANLY: You know, I got to represent people - you know, I was in the military. And the only way I can describe these women as I would describe somebody who has won the Medal of Honor. They competed for our country, and they were treated like garbage by the people that were supposed to honor them.

KELLY: Yeah.

MANLY: And as a lawyer, for me to step up and be able to - and my team to step up and represent them and give them justice is just a tremendous honor. I'm so proud of my team.

KELLY: Mr. Manly, thank you.

MANLY: Thank you, ma'am.

KELLY: That's attorney John Manly. He's representing more than 180 of Larry Nassar's victims. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
Gus Contreras
Courtney Dorning has been a Senior Editor for NPR's All Things Considered since November 2018. In that role, she's the lead editor for the daily show. Dorning is responsible for newsmaker interviews, lead news segments and the small, quirky features that are a hallmark of the network's flagship afternoon magazine program.
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