Over 140 female athletes have held their silence about being sexually harassed for over 20 years, but their perpetrator is finally being put to justice.
Former USA Gymnastics and sports medicine physician Larry Nassar was a celebrated and reputable figure that many turned to for medical advice and help. Now, he is facing more than 175 years in prison for child pornography charges and 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct.
“He has a place of power, he has a stranglehold on other people,” Gateway Counselor Mr. Wang said. “Someone of that mindset seems like he is seeking power and satisfaction. He knows how they think and that’s the spectrum he went through.”
Nassar was indeed aware of the influence he had, and he violated it. He was cunning as he was corrupt–he showered his victims with gifts, praises and support, anything that could help him maintain his control over them.
It was despicable–the girls that Nassar harassed were as young as 6-years-old and did not have a voice at the time. What was even more horrendous was that there were people who didn’t believe the girls. A New York Times article compiled striking quotes from the women, and one of the quotes, which came from gymnast and Olympic medalist Jamie Dantzscher said, “People didn’t believe me, even people I thought were my friends. They called me a liar, a whore, and even accused me of making all of this up just to get attention.”
There were also quotes directed at Lou Anna Simon, the president of Michigan State University.
“When asked to be here for a survivor’s statement today, you stated you are too busy to fit it in your schedule. Well, Lou Anna Simon, I can assure you, none of us had the time in our schedules for the past five to 20 years for Larry Nassar to abuse us,” gymnast Lindsey Lemke said.
Simon is being urged to resign because the university had done a poor job of handling the case. USA Gymnastics is also under fire, as the organization knew about the incident but waited five weeks to report it.
But, the athletes, including famous Olympic champions like Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, could no longer live their lives in silence. For all the years that Nassar instilled fear and despair into his victims, the females finally found their voices to fight back as the women have rallied to bring down the monster that is Nassar.
“If they were voluntarily there [to testify], they wanted some kind of resolution,” Mr. Wang said.
Tying the army against Nassar altogether was Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who fought for the girls all the way through. She told Nassar, “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you,” and to the victims, she gave them words of encouragement and consolation.
The actions of Nassar not only reflect poorly on him and the USA gymnastics organization, but on the entire profession of sports therapy as well. While the actions of Nassar are clearly not indicative of the entire profession being evil, there are plenty of precautions that trainers should take to prevent such abuse from occurring.
“The main thing for [trainers] is to make sure to not put yourself in these types of situations where you know you are doing something wrong,” Athletic Trainer Cassandra Garcia said. “We just want to ensure that they are comfortable with what we have to do to get the job done.”
In the end, no matter what precautions are taken, situations like these are still sickening, and it is only right to see Nassar being put to justice after all this time.
“[His crimes] are really horrible and that’s all that can really be said,” Garcia said.
Additional reporting by Timothy Chuman