On December 13, the hundreds of female gymnasts who were sexually abused by Lawrence G. Nassar agreed to a $380 million settlement with U.S.A. Gymnastics and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
Over 500 victims will be compensated, making it one of the largest cases of child molestation in history. Among them, gold medalists Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman have helped bring light to the abuse that has been occurring for years through multiple Congressional hearings. These hearings also helped highghlight the vulnerability of young athletes and the focus being on performance above all else, sometimes at the expense of their mental and physical wellbeing.
“No amount of money will ever repair the damage that has been done and what these women have been through,” Rachael Denhollander told The New York Times. Denhollander is a former gymnast who became a lawyer and a coach. She was the first person to denounce the abuse done by Nassar, the former doctor of the national gymnastics team. In 2016, Denhollander told The Indianapolis Star that Nassar had molested her as a child. She also said that Nassar had been abusing young atheltes for two decades and pretending it was therapy.
“To move forward, we have to make sure that this never happens again — on the Olympic team or at the lowest level gyms,” said Denhollander. “I think we owe it to the survivors, but also to the future gymnasts, to do the best that we can do to protect them.”
Olympic officials apologized to the survivors in a statement. “U.S.A. Gymnastics is deeply sorry for the trauma and pain that survivors have endured as a result of this organization’s actions and inactions,” said Li Li Leung, the president and chief executive of U.S.A. Gymnastics. She added that the federation’s reorganization plan reflected “accountability to the past and our commitment to the future.”