<
>

Gymnastics club settles Nassar suit for $2.1M

Roughly 200 girls and young women who say they were sexually assaulted by disgraced Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar have agreed to a settlement with Twistars USA Gymnastics Club and its owner, 2012 USA Olympic head coach John Geddert.

The agreed-upon $2.125 million settlement amount is small in comparison to the $500 million Nassar survivors will receive from Michigan State University, but it represents the maximum allowed under Geddert's insurance coverage, according to two people familiar with the terms of the agreement.

Geddert, 61, would not comment about the settlement when reached Wednesday at his Lansing-area home. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Geddert, the head coach of the gold-medal-winning women's gymnastics team from the 2012 London Olympics, is the target of an ongoing investigation by the Michigan attorney general's office. Dozens of former Twistars gymnasts and their parents have cooperated with the state probe and described to investigators how for years Geddert coached through fear and intimidation. Many have alleged Geddert physically abused gymnasts, according to former gymnasts and their parents, who've spoken with state investigators and Outside the Lines.

Geddert and Nassar worked closely for more than 25 years, first at Great Lakes Gymnastics, the Lansing gym where Geddert served as head coach starting in 1984, and later at Twistars, the club Geddert started in 1996.

Geddert's allegedly abusive coaching style first came into focus in a January 2018 investigation by Outside the Lines.

That same month, a series of former Twistars gymnasts described at Nassar's first state sentencing the dynamic that existed between the two men. Nassar volunteered his time on Monday nights at Twistars, treating hundreds of gymnasts in a makeshift training room, located just off the gym floor. Approximately 200 women say Nassar sexually assaulted them inside that training room, fondling them or penetrating them with his fingers, during unsupervised sessions that Nassar represented as medical treatments.

In late January 2018, Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics, a move that barred him from the gym floor of his club and any USAG-sanctioned events. Shortly after the suspension, Geddert announced his retirement.

Attorneys representing Nassar survivors and others have until Monday, April 29, to file claims against USA Gymnastics on behalf of their clients. Those with outstanding claims against other defendants, including Twistars and Geddert, have agreed to link their ongoing lawsuits to the federal bankruptcy case involving USAG, the Indianapolis-based governing body. That means the roughly 200 women with legal claims against Twistars and Geddert won't receive their settlement payments until the ongoing USAG bankruptcy case is resolved.

USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in December, one month after the U.S. Olympic Committee said it was initiating a process to decertify USA Gymnastics as the official national body of the sport. Sarah Hirshland, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, told members of Congress in February that the organization was putting its decision to decertify on hold while USA Gymnastics remained in bankruptcy court.

Earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Grassley -- chairman of the finance committee -- sent Hirshland a letter, obtained by Outside the Lines, questioning the motives behind maneuvers made by both organizations. Grassley asked if the decertification and bankruptcy announcements were a "strategy" to appease Congress and the public while not taking any real action.

"[I]t is perplexing that you would halt these vital proceedings after informing the athletic community that 'you deserve better,'" Grassley wrote, referencing a statement made by Hirshland when she first announced the decertification threat last November.

Grassley included a list of five questions for the USOC to answer and asked for copies of all internal communications related to the decertification process. Congress gives the USOC funding and its power to certify organizations such as USA Gymnastics as the national governing bodies of their sports.

There are 51 separate law firms now representing more than 500 girls and women who say Nassar sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment. Of the 500, 333 women were part of the initial $500 million settlement with Michigan State University, Nassar's former full-time employer.

Another 172 women, a group referred to by attorneys as "wave two," are settling cases on an individual basis. To date, dozens of those women have agreed to undisclosed settlement terms with Michigan State University, according to a source with knowledge of those negotiations.

Nassar, 55, is serving a 60-year federal prison sentence on child pornography convictions and won't begin serving his 40-to-125-year state sentence until that federal prison term expires. He's incarcerated in Sumterville, Florida, northwest of Orlando.

ESPN's Dan Murphy contributed to this report.