Questioning how Larry Nassar’s crimes went unpunished for so long

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Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sports medicine doctor, will be sentenced 40 to 125 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct. He is already serving 60 years in federal prison for a conviction related to child pornography charges in a separate case and will spend the rest of his existing life behind bars.

There is currently little doubt surrounding the nature and severity of his crimes and he has been deservedly shown no sympathy — especially from Judge Janice K. Cunningham — the woman who handed down his sentencing.

Her lengthy statement to Nassar was impactful, stating that, “the conduct of the defendant has robbed these girls and women of one of the most truly important human qualities: trust.”

Denouncing any chance she thinks he has of reforming and focusing predominately on the suffering of his victims, she effectively demonstrated exactly how the case should have been handled and hopefully set precedent for cases like this in the future.

Nassar pled guilty to a combination of ten counts of sexual assault, as well as pleading guilty to other federal charges. At a victim count that was thought to be closer to 200, the current number has risen to 265 victims who have come forward accusing Nassar of molesting them during his time as a gymnastics doctor and supposed medical professional. More than 150 women publicly confronted him in court with personal impact statements at his sentencing.

Judge Cunningham provided all women who wished to speak with the opportunity to share what Nassar had done to them. The result was disturbing and incredibly upsetting. Providing the option of tweeting and live streaming, she ensured that it was accessible to all affected individuals who wished to participate in the process.

The last woman who spoke at Nassar’s third and final hearing, was the first person to publicly bring forward their allegations against him, Rachel Denhollander, who addressed his crimes back in September 2016. She originally told her story to the Indianapolis Star, which instigated the flood of numerous accusations that came out after her own.

Most of the disgraced doctor’s victims were teenagers, with at least one victim that was younger than 13-years-old.

The unsettling nature surrounding Nassar’s crimes is extensive, bringing more questions than answers.
Questions as to how a man like this was able to continue abusing the girls and women who trusted him for medical care even when the police and eventually the FBI, were made aware of his abhorrent actions.

Brianne Randall reported Nassar to the police for sexual abuse in 2004 when she was 17. During a second visit with the doctor where he touched her inappropriately — an exam in which he claimed to be treating her for scoliosis — she told investigators that he attempted to penetrate her with his ungloved fingers and cupped her breasts.

Nassar admitted these accusations to the investigator who interviewed him, claiming that it was a medical technique called “sacrotuberous ligament release” for which he provided a PowerPoint presentation explaining the process. In the presentation, he included photos of him performing the procedure himself.

After viewing the presentation, Randall’s mother was contacted and told that the charges against Nassar were being dropped due to the “facts” he presented.
Meridian Township, Michigan, has since released a public apology to Randall for how they originally handled the case.

The FBI were notified about Nassar in July 2015 with a report that listed three victims. Two of those victims were not interviewed by agents assigned to the case for nearly a year. During that time, according to the New York Times, Nassar was free to continue abusing and molesting at least 40 girls and young women.

Instead of questioning the victims over why they waited to speak or not speak or why they behaved in a certain way when they were abused, direct those inquiries toward Larry Nassar.

Quickly becoming one of the worst known sexual predators in American sports history, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University are being sued by multiple victims who want answers for how this monster was permitted to continue committing his crimes without any legal action taken until recently.

USA Gymnastics kept notoriously quiet despite being made aware of what Nassar was doing to numerous women for years, and the remaining board members have been forced to resign since the president stepped down in March.

Suspicions regarding Nassar have existed since the 1990s and Michigan State University is facing immense scrutiny because of their neglect as well.

The failures of these institutions are indicative of a problem that will continue to exist until safety and transparency standards are drastically re-evaluated and sexual assault charges are taken as seriously as they should be when officials are originally made aware of them.

It should not take over 200 women coming forward and a no-nonsense female judge with basic levels of human decency and empathy to rightfully convict a man who is nothing but a soulless criminal.

Nassar is not the first, nor will he be the last man to abuse his power to inflict pain and suffering onto those he sees beneath him.

The #MeToo movement and the recent decrease in tolerance for sexual assault has triggered a growing attitude that has been severely lacking for far too long.

It should not have to take a Harvey Weinstein or a Larry Nassar to shock people into opening their eyes and seeing the injustices that exist in our society regarding victims of unwanted sexual behaviour. These men are the reasons why women don’t initially come forward when they are assaulted — because when they do, they aren’t taken seriously. Their abusers are believed over them or the authorities take such a long time to make progress that numerous other victims are targeted in the process.

Unlike the Brock Turner case and countless other ones like it, Larry Nassar was not pitied or sympathized with by the person in charge of his sentencing. He was not humanized, because he had that right taken away when he chose to spend his career destroying the lives of at least 265 women.

When a devastated father lunges across a court room because three of his daughters have been molested by someone they thought they could trust — and when women have to stand in front of their abuser tearfully asking what they did to deserve being treated so terribly at the hands of a man that was supposed to provide them medical care — there is a fundamental problem that exists and needs to be resolved.

Instead of questioning the victims over why they waited to speak or not speak or why they behaved in a certain way when they were abused, direct those inquiries toward Larry Nassar.

Ask why he did it to begin with and how he was able to get away with it for over 20 years.

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