The first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual assault said the $500 million settlement that Michigan State University reached with the hundreds of survivors of the twisted sports doctor’s sexual abuse “reflects the incredible damage” that occurred on campus.
“I am very grateful to have reached a settlement with MSU that reflects the incredible damage which took place on MSU’s campus,” former gymnast Rachael Denhollander said in a lengthy statement Wednesday following the announcement of the settlement that will be paid to 332 women and girls.
“I am thankful that the litigation phase is over so that my sisters and I can move forward,” Denhollander, a Kentucky lawyer, wrote in the statement posted to Facebook.
Denhollander went on to say that she remains “deeply disappointed at the missed opportunity for meaningful reform at the University.”
“The litigation phase is over, but the fight for change and accountability, the fight to give survivors a voice and protect the next generation, has only just begun,” Denhollander said.
“We intend to stand united with, and for, ALL survivors of abuse as we work together towards these goals.”
Denhollander was just 15-years-old when she was molested by Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who was on staff at MSU as a physician for decades.
She first stepped forward and publicly accused Nassar of sexual abuse in September 2016, paving the way for hundreds of others to speak out with similar stories of abuse.
“My choice to come forward publicly against Larry, and later against the institutions that allowed him to prey on children for decades, was motivated by the need for accountability and reform, so that other little children don’t live the nightmares we lived,” Denhollander said in her statement Wednesday.
“This is a passion all of the Sister Survivors share, and one which has not diminished or changed,” she said. ‘Moving forward,’ for myself and many others, means continuing to advocate, call for accountability, and stand for those who have yet to have a voice. This includes continuing to advocate for desperately needed accountability and change at USAG and in the USOC [United State Olympic Committee].”
She added: “I remain disappointed that resolution was not reached with these other organizations who also enabled a serial predator for decades.”
The $500 million settlement only applies to MSU and school officials who were sued.
Lindsey Lemke, a former MSU gymnast who was a team captain on the women’s team and a Nassar accuser, hailed the settlement as a “victory.”
“This is the most accomplished I have felt in a long time,” Lemke said in a tweet Wednesday.
“I’ve never devoted myself to something more in my life than to fight for justice from institutions who hold more power than what is imaginable. But we did it. Not the end, but this is victory.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette whose office prosecuted Nassar and whose office is currently conducting an investigation of sexual misconduct at MSU said in a statement Wednesday: “I am pleased for the survivors of Larry Nassar’s mistreatment that this settlement is occurring.”
“This is about justice for the survivors; each of the women who came forward deserve justice. Those who spoke at the many days of sentencing remain in my thoughts every day, and their strength is an inspiration to us all.”
Nassar has been sentenced to three prison terms — two for his sex abuse crimes and another for federal child pornography charges.