Thursday Reads: The Brave Women of USA GymnasticsPosted: January 25, 2018
The moron is over in Switzerland making a fool of himself. I’m sick of reading and writing about him, so I’m dedicating this post to the brave women who brought down sexual abuser Larry Nassar and his enablers. (It will just be a link dump, because I’m still sick. I got an antibiotic yesterday, so I hope that will clear up my sinus infection.)
After a remarkable hearing that featured gut-wrenching statements from 156 of his accusers and an apology that the judge said rang hollow, former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls under the guise of treatment.
“You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said in the Ingham County, Michigan, courtroom where Nassar was forced to listen to victims for seven days before learning his fate.
“I just signed your death warrant,” she added.
Nassar, 54, agreed to a minimum 40-year sentence when he pleaded guiltylast year to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in Ingham County. He still faces sentencing in Eaton County for three more counts, and he’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography….
Before the sentence was handed down, Nassar was allowed to speak. Turning to the victims sitting behind him, he tearfully said their statements had shaken him to the core.
“What I am feeling pales in comparison to [your] pain, trauma and emotional destruction,” he said. “There are no words to describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write or convey.
“I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
The judge took out a six-page letter he sent the court last week in which he insisted what he had done to the victims “was medical not sexual,” that he was a “good doctor” and the victim of a media frenzy, and that prosecutors had pressured him to to admit to things he had not done.
He complained that his patients had turned on him. “‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,'” the judge read aloud, her voice full of scorn.
She asked him, “Would you like to withdraw your plea?”
“No, your honor,” he said.
“Because you’re guilty aren’t you?” she pressed.
“I accept my plea,” he said.
Aquilina said she simply didn’t believe that Nassar was owning up to what he pleaded to: penetrating minors with ungloved hands for his own sexual pleasure.
“I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir,” she said.
Read excerpts from Nassar’s letter at the Washington Post: Here are the Larry Nassar comments that drew gasps in the courtroom. Prepare to be disgusted.
Read excerpts from the victim statements at The Cut: The Most Powerful Testimony From Ex-USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Hearing. Excerpt:
Kyle Stephens, January 16
Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.
Stephens has said she was first molested by Nassar, a family friend, when she was only six. She is the only accuser who was not a patient of Nassar’s. When she was 12, she finally told her parents about the doctors’ behavior, but they didn’t believe her.
Olivia Cowan, January 16
Today, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend that is struggling each day to find peace and joy in all the things that once made me happy.
Cowan, a former gymnast at MSU, said she suffers from PTSD, and is scared to send her two little girls to birthday parties or sleepovers. She also had sharp criticism for MSU and USA gymnastics, and said that if officials in the two organizations had taken the reports about Nassar seriously, “they would have saved me and all these other women standing before us today.”
Maggie Nichols, January 17
Nichols was the first person to report Nassar’s sexual abuse to USA Gymnastics back in 2015. Her statement was read by her mother, Gina, who at one point turned to Kerry Perry, the CEO of USA Gymnastics and said “Shame on MSU, USAG, and the USOC.”
Stephanie Robinson, January 17
I came to the stand as a victim, and I leave as a victor.
Robinson, who is only 17, initially wanted to remain anonymous. But on Wednesday, she walked up to the stand with her father, and faced her abuser, who she said she had once looked up to, and job shadowed for a day.
McKayla Maroney, January 18
As it turns out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor, he in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being. End of story! He abused my trust, he abused my body, and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away.
Read more statements at The Call: More than 150 women testified at Larry Nassar’s sentencing. Read what they had to say.
Retired gymnast Mattie Larson said she once tried to give herself a concussion to avoid Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting scores of female athletes.
In an interview today on “Good Morning America,” Larson said she was about 15 or 16 at the time when she pretended to slip and fall in her family’s bathroom. She splashed water on the floor and purposely slammed her head in a desperate attempt to avoid being sent back to Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas, a national training site for U.S. Olympic gymnasts where Nassar allegedly preyed on his victims.
“I was crying, panicking, didn’t want to go. I was taking a bath. It wasn’t even a hard decision in my mind. I just turned on survival mode,” Larson told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos. “I banged my head as hard as I could to make sure that I got a bump and to make sure that my parents heard the bang.”
When asked why she didn’t seek help instead, Larson said, “It wasn’t an option for me. I didn’t know I could. I didn’t have a voice.”
Needham native and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is continuing her call for an independent investigation of U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics related to the handling of sexual abuse allegations against sports doctor Larry Nassar.
“What’s it going to take for you to do the right thing?” the three-time gold medalist asked the athletic organizations on Twitter.
Raisman posted her comments in response to a Monday statement from USOC CEO Scott Blackmun on the resignations of three USA Gymnastics board members in the wake of the Nassar abuse case.
“For the past week, survivors came forward to courageously to face a perpetrator of evil and to share their painful stories,” the Needham native wrote, sharing her “thoughts” on the CEO’s statement. “Many of them, myself included, claim the USOC is also at fault. Was the USOC there to ‘focus on supporting the brave survivors’? No. Did they issue a statement then? Crickets… .”
Raisman accused the USOC of “shamelessly taking credit” for the USAG resignations, “as though they’re addressing this problem.”
Lou Anna Simon resigned as president of Michigan State University on Wednesday evening just hours after former MSU athletic trainer Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in jail for sexually assaulting former gymnasts in his care.
Pressure had increased on Simon to step down over the length of Nassar’s sentencing hearing, which included a week of testimonials from Nassar’s victims. More than 150 women alleged assault at the hands of Nassar. Many of those who spoke during sentencing were critical of Simon and the administration at Michigan State.
“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable,” Simon said in her resignation letter. “As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first….
A number of the women assaulted by Nassar spoke following his conviction Wednesday, criticizing MSU and its leadership in a statement, saying, “MSU and its administrators could have prevented the Nassar scandal if they had simply followed Title IX and the mandatory reporting laws. They ignored complaints of his misconduct going back to 1997. When they finally conducted a Title IX investigation of Nassar in 2014, they botched it and allowed him to continue allegedly molesting dozens of women and girls for two more years, including Team USA gymnasts.”
Detroit News: What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse.
Reports of sexual misconduct by Dr. Larry Nassar reached at least 14 Michigan State University representatives in the two decades before his arrest, with no fewer than eight women reporting his actions, a Detroit News investigation has found.
Among those notified was MSU President Lou Anna Simon, who was informed in 2014 that a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician, she told The News on Wednesday.
“I was informed that a sports medicine doctor was under investigation,” said Simon, who made the brief comments after appearing in court Wednesday to observe a sentencing hearing for Nassar. “I told people to play it straight up, and I did not receive a copy of the report. That’s the truth.”
Among the others who were aware of alleged abuse were athletic trainers, assistant coaches, a university police detective and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel, according to university records and accounts of victims who spoke to The News. We recommend residential treatment programs for troubled youth when we encounter these kinds of problems.
Collectively, the accounts show MSU missed multiple opportunities over two decades to stop Nassar, a graduate of its osteopathic medical school who became a renowned doctor but went on to molest scores of girls and women under the guise of treating them for pain.
Charles Pierce at Sports Illustrated: Burn It All Down: It’s Time For Every Last Coward Who Enabled Larry Nassar To Pay For Their Sins.
Burn it all down. That is the calm and reasoned conclusion to which I have come as one horror story after another unspooled in the courtroom. Nobody employed in the upper echelons at USA Gymnastics, or at the United States Olympic Committee, or at Michigan State University should still have a job. If accessorial or conspiracy charges plausibly can be lodged against those people, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Those people should come out of civil courts wearing barrels. Their descendants should be answering motions in the 22nd Century. In fact, I can argue convincingly that none of those three institutions should continue to exist in its current form. USA Gymnastics and the USOC should lose their non-profit status forthwith. Michigan State should lose its status within the NCAA for at least five years. American gymnastics is no longer a sport. It’s a conspiracy of pedophiles and their enablers.
Where are the other coaches in East Lansing? Where is Tom Izzo, who makes four million bucks a year to coach basketball? Where is Mark Dantonio, who makes just about as much to coach football? Larry Nassar worked for the same athletic department as they do….
Both Izzo and Dantonio went out of their way to support MSU president Lou Ann Simon, who probably should be transported to the apartment in Rome recently vacated by the late Bernard Cardinal Law. Nice to know that these two highly paid public employees know who the real victim is. And the school’s gymnastics coach tried to coerce her athletes into signing a card to support Nassar when the first charges began to come down. This is unfathomable to me. I believe it also would be unfathomable to Vlad the Impaler.
Is there anything about the modern Olympic Games that isn’t corrupt? The people who run them make up a claque of international bagmen, shaking down whole countries and bankrupting cities as though the entire world was their goodie bag. There are drugs and bribery, and there was Sochi, which was a monument to both of them. And now there’s this incredible crime spree that took place right under the noses of the Olympic officials. Back in the day, East Germany had its steroid-peddling doctors. The U.S.A. had Larry Nassar. Two-tie, all tie.
NBC should refuse to pay a dime toward its rights fees until everyone involved in this catastrophe is unemployed. If they so choose, American gymnasts should be allowed to compete in 2020 under the Olympic flag or, perhaps, under the flags of the nations from which their parents emigrated. Their country failed them as surely as did the sporting organizations that purport to represent it. No punishment is too harsh for the inhabitants of this universe of ghouls and gargoyles to which these brave young women were condemned. Burn it all down. Salt the earth so it never rises again.
There’s much more powerful stuff from Pierce at SI. I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread.
What else is happening? What stories are you following?