Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Dr. sentenced, MSU prez resigns in gymnastics abuse

More than 160 women, including several Olympic gymnasts, testified during the long sentencing phase of a trial in Lansing, Michigan, that Lawrence G Nassar had sexually abused them when they were gymnasts and he was the “must-see” doctor for the US Olympics team, the New York Times reports.

A monument in Lansing, Mich. (Voxitatis)

“Larry is the most dangerous type of abuser: one who is capable of manipulating his victims through coldly calculated grooming methodologies, presenting the most wholesome and caring external persona as a deliberate means to ensure a steady stream of young children to assault,” testified Rachael Denhollander, one of the very first women to come forward in this case.

Following her brave recounting of her story, other women, many of them gymnasts or former gymnasts—including gold medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, and Simone Biles—came forward to tell theirs, and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina yesterday sentenced Mr Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for those sex crimes. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for other crimes of which he was convicted.

“This letter tells me you have not yet owned what you did,” she said during sentencing, referring to a letter he wrote. “You still think somehow you are right, you’re a doctor, that you’re entitled, so you don’t have to listen. That you did ‘treatment.’ I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir.”

Resignations have also followed from this case, including yesterday’s announcement from Lou Anna K Simon, the Michigan State University president, which is where Mr Nassar worked as a physician. “As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable,” she wrote in a university news release. “As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.” Charges of abuse had been brought to MSU officials, who responded in a way that has been criticized as ineffective and unfitting for a major university like MSU.

The chairman and several board members of the governing body for gymnastics in the United States, USA Gymnastics, also stepped down last week as a result of the revelations in this case. The organization officially cut ties with the private training center at the remote Karolyi Ranch in Texas, where some of the abuse had occurred.

In addition, the US Olympic Committee, which was accused of not doing enough to protect women while sending them to see Mr Nassar, has announced it is taking steps to ensure incidents like this don’t repeat themselves. The committee called on its entire board to resign after the sentence was announced and the testimony of the women had been heard.

Charges may continue, as I’m certain a crime this big requires the complicity or complacence of many people. Watching these women testify on TV, even in excerpts, was heart-wrenching, and their bravery marks the furthest extent so far of true equality. Future resignations, charges, or lawsuits in this case will bring us closer to equality than we’ll realize for a long time to come.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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