Victims of Larry Nassar, the Michigan State University physician who sexually abused young women under the guise of medical treatment, would receive $500 million from the university in a settlement announced Wednesday.
The agreement, reached with lawyers representing 332 of Nassar's victims, was approved Tuesday by the university's trustees. The settlement must still be finalized, officials said.
"This historic settlement came about through the bravery of more than 300 women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced," said John Manly, a lawyer for many of the victims. "It is the sincere hope of all of the survivors that the legacy of this settlement will be far-reaching institutional reform that will end the threat of sexual assault in sports, schools and throughout our society."
Nassar, who is currently in federal prison, for years preyed upon girls and young women in his role as a university doctor and as a physician for the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. His sentencing in state court this year drew international attention as hundreds of his victims described their abuse.
The case against Nassar shook Michigan State and led to accusations that the university covered up his abuse and ignored repeated complaints about his behavior over many years. Amid the fallout, the university president resigned, the state attorney general opened a criminal investigation, and Nassar's longtime boss, William D. Strampel, was charged with committing abuse himself.
"Michigan State is pleased that we have been able to agree in principle on a settlement that is fair to the survivors of Nassar's crimes," said Robert Young, a lawyer for the university. "We appreciate the hard work both sides put into the mediation, and the efforts of the mediator, which achieved a result that is responsible and equitable."
Amanda Thomashow, who reported abuse by Nassar to the university in 2014, said Wednesday that she hoped the settlement would lead to cultural changes at Michigan State and a shift in the national conversation about sexual abuse.
"I think that it's a step toward healing for myself and all of the brave survivors who have told their truth," Thomashow said. "But I also think there is so much more work to be done at that university and universities across the country."
Wednesday's settlement only addresses claims against the university. Lawsuits against USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and others remain unresolved.