Attorneys agree to mediation in Nassar lawsuits
Attorneys in the federal civil lawsuits filed against former Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar and the school agreed Wednesday to enter into three months of mediation in hopes of reaching a settlement.
Nassar, 53, has been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, accused by dozens of former gymnasts of digitally penetrating them without gloves, lubricant or their consent while they were treated for injuries.
Nassar pleaded guilty last month to three federal child pornography charges. He maintains he is not guilty of the sexual assault charges, which are pending in state courts.
Nasser, a once-popular physician for MSU and USA Gymnastics, admitted in July that he downloaded and kept thousands of pornographic images and videos of children, then tried to destroy the files after learning he was being investigated.
In exchange for his plea, federal authorities agreed not to prosecute him on allegations of child sex abuse involving four alleged victims.
On Wednesday, attorneys representing various parties in the civil cases met before U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist in Grand Rapids and agreed to negotiate toward a settlement.
Attorneys will have to agree on payouts and other details regarding the lawsuits filed by the women and involving several Michigan law firms, including at least two from Metro Detroit.
The mediator is attorney Jon Muth, who practices in Belmont, near Grand Rapids.
Civil lawsuits have been filed against Nasser by an estimated 120-125 alleged victim, all of them women who now range from 13 to 58 years old.
Lansing area attorney Mick Grewal, who represents some of the women who have sued Nassar, said Wednesday he’s hoping for a settlement to give the alleged victims emotional closure.
“This is emotionally tolling for their lives,” Grewal said Wednesday. “It will help them in the healing process.”
Grewal said as part of the settlement, the plantiffs’ attorneys plan to ask for sexual abuse counseling for the alleged victims as well as a change in procedure and policies at MSU.
Monetary damages will be determined further into the mediation process. Grewal said if there is no agreement after 90 days, the mediation period can be extended.
An MSU spokesman declined to comment on the mediation agreement.
Kim Kozlowski contributed.