By Ethan Smith, Sports Editor
January 24, 2018
After nearly two decades of sexual abuse going unnoticed in US Women’s Gymnastics, Larry Nassar was sentenced up to 175 years in prison for his acts of sexual abuse against 150 women and girls who competed for the US National Gymnastics team.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina took great pride in giving out this sentence, “I’ve just signed your death warrant…. I find that you don’t get it, that you’re a danger. That you remain a danger.” Nassar attempted to defend his medical practices and accused the women who accused him of sexual abuse of lying for the attention they “craved” and financial rewards. In Nassar’s letter, he states, “I was a good doctor because my treatments worked, and those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over. The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell, hath no fury like a woman scorned.” These were read aloud by Judge Aquilina during his hearing. Nassar already faced 50 years for child pornography, so this already adds to what is a substantially long sentence for just downright unforgivable actions that will forever scar the victims and everyone else involved.
For those who do not know who Dr. Larry Nassar was a former doctor for the US Gymnastics team who also worked at Michigan State University (MSU). He received notable degrees from MSU and worked with its football, basketball, and other major sports teams. He was appointed national medical director of US Gymnastics in 1996. Along with his medical work for MSU, he later became a professor there as well.
Nassar was first accused of sexual abuse in 2016, when former gold medalist Rachael Denhollander said she suffered from sexual abuse by Nassar in 1994. Some of his victims reported that the abuse continued for over 6 years, while the dates the accusers gave spanned over a total of 13 years.
Following the sentencing of Nassar, MSU faces an uncertain next few months. The administration fired Nassar on Sep 20, 2016, but can be considered grossly untimely.
In 1997, an MSU student’s parent raised concerns about Nassar to John Geddert, but he failed to contact police. Geddert, now the former US Gymnastics coach was questioned and referred to throughout the Nassar case numerous times. He retired on Jan 23, 2017 amid allegations that he may have been part of the sexual abuse caused by Nassar.
MSU President Lou Ann K. Simon resigned shortly after his sentencing on Jan 24. Simon’s resignation may create a domino effect as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has launched a full-fledged investigation into the university’s codes of conduct.
Immediately after Nassar’s sentencing, the Olympic Committee issued a statement calling for the entire board at US Gymnastics to resign. In the same statement, the committee reinforced that they will take further action to make sure something of this magnitude never happens again.
The assault Nassar inflicted on these gymnasts have left intense physical and emotional harm. Despite of that, they have grown to not only be Olympic Gold medalists, but role models for girls everywhere. Every single survivor that spoke up could have easily remained silent, but they had the bravery and wherewithal to send a “monster” as some have called him to prison where he can do no harm to women anymore.
Reporting this story has been particularly difficult for the Inkwell staff considering how Nassar managed to harm so many young women, colleagues, families and ultimately an entire nation.
This is a disgrace to MSU, US Gymnastics, and the US Olympics in general.Questions abound and will hopefully come to a resolution, but his sentencing has given many of these women closure, and that’s what they have been looking for their entire lives. Nassar deserves punishment to the fullest extent of the law.
People will no longer be silenced, by intimidation or otherwise. Having a voice to advocate for issues matters. Speak up.