How Did Larry Nassar Get Away With Abusing Over 150 Young Women?

Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics team doctor for four Olympic Games and an employee at Michigan State University, has been accused of sexually abusing more than 150 girls and women over the course of almost 20 years.

Last December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in a completely separate case involving child abuse pornography.

Now, after admitting that he molested girls at Michigan State University and at his home under the pretense of medical treatment, Nassar faces an extra sentence of between 25 and 40 years.

This week in a Michigan courtroom more than 100 of his victims spoke up.

“You manipulated me into thinking you were the good guy and helping me, while sexually abusing me over and over and over for your own twisted pleasure,” stated Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist.

“You are pure evil,” she added.

“I have been suffering from PTSD for the last 20 years,” said former athlete Nicole Reeb. “I am so incredibly angry, angry that this happened to me, enraged that it was allowed to happen to me, furious that I have been dealing with this trauma for over 20 years, and I didn’t even realize it.”

Some athletes, like Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, had their statements read aloud by prosecutors.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” read Maroney’s statement. “He in fact is, was, and forever shall be a child molester, and a monster of a human being.”

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles (seen above) is the latest to condemn Nassar. In a Twitter post she wrote, “I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar. Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper.”

You can watch some of this gut-wrenching testimony here.

Sentencing in this case was scheduled for January 19, but will be postponed for a few days to allow a growing number of victims to give their testimony.

Incredibly, Nassar wrote a six-page single-spaced letter to County Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, complaining that it was too hard for him to listen to his victims describing how he had molested them under the pretense of medical treatment and how he had wrecked their lives.

Aquilina scoffed.

“Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” she said.

So how did Larry Nassar get away with abusing over 150 young women and never being held accountable?

Speaking on PBS’s NewsHour, Christine Brennan, a reporter and sports columnist for USA Today, called Nassar’s abuse “probably the darkest stain in U.S. Olympic history,” and provided one explanation:

“We are talking about 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls. And if they are really good, they are in that Olympic pipeline. That means mom and dad are spending lots of money on this. Maybe the family is moving. Maybe they’re separating to go to a training camp, or at least for many weeks out of the year, they are away.

“And how does that young girl who has got this Olympic dream muster up the courage to tell her mom or dad or even a bigger deal, to go to the leaders of the Gymnastics Federation and say, this is happening to me?”

As Brennan points out, if a young female athlete did this, she would likely be scared of being kicked off the team and being replaced by someone else.

The second reason Nassar was not held accountable?

Blame a culture of complicity and misogyny. Even when these young women did speak up, nobody listened.

A federal Title IX complaint was brought against Nassar in 2014; Michigan State investigated but found no grounds to dismiss him.

However according to The Detroit News, over the past 20 years, 14 officials at Michigan State received details of Nassar’s abuse, but did nothing. For her part, Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon only admits that she knew of the complaint and a police report but never saw the report.

This is completely unacceptable.

Take Action!

If you agree, please sign the Care2 petition demanding that Lou Anna Simon step down as President of Michigan State University. It’s the very least she can do to help these 150 young women move on with their lives.

After tragic stories of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, revelations of sexual misconduct thanks to the #MeToo movement, now we are learning of sexual abuse in the sports world. And in all these cases, victims tried to speak up but were not taken seriously.

As for USA Gymnastics, their CEO Steve Penny did resign last March as details of Nassar’s sexual assault scandal began to go public.

Where are all the other resignations?

The U.S. Olympic Committee has now set up “SafeSport,” which they say is designed to “protect every athlete’s physical and emotional safety.” It’s an independent clearinghouse, where people can report anonymously if necessary any type of abuse in sports.

So that’s a start and let’s hope that with the growth of the #MeToo movement, everyone, including athletes, will feel more empowered to speak up about sexual abuse.

Photo Credit: By Fernando Frazao/Agencia Brasil, via Wikimedia Commons

108 comments

Marie W
Marie W28 days ago

thanks

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Past Member
Past Member 6 months ago

Monster.

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Danii P
Past Member 6 months ago

thank you

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David Anderson
David A6 months ago

Karen H posts the quote 'What is a child worth?'

In this case, my answer would be 'The 95¢ it would cost me to shoot the moron I caught harming one.'

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Karen H
Karen H6 months ago

Everyone who ignored the reports and possible evidence over the last THIRTY YEARS should be ashamed of themselves and lose their jobs. As one victim asked: What is a child worth? I agree.
Is a young girl's innocence worth a university's reputation?

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D6 months ago

God bless that wonderful judge. When she said "it was my honor and privilege to sentence you" I stood up and applauded. I know it's not enough considering what those poor girls endured and they will carry this for the rest of their lives. Let's hope what they say happens to pedophiles in prison happens...

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Jim V
Jim Ven6 months ago

thank you

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Jim V
Jim Ven6 months ago

thank you

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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