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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Will Larry Nassar’s Enablers Ever Be Held Accountable?

Posted by on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 8:46 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

Yesterday, the former doctor for the American gymnastics team, was sentenced to up to 175 years for sex crimes, following seven days of testimony from his victims during his sentencing. “Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who had opened her courtroom to the young women, including several prominent Olympic athletes, bluntly made clear that Dr. [Lawrence G.] Nassar, 54, was likely to die in prison. ‘I just signed your death warrant,’ she said as she imposed the sentence [NYT].
  • Nassar is a piece of work, already serving sixty years for child porn charges. From the Times: “Given an opportunity to address the court before sentencing, Dr. Nassar apologized to the young women and, occasionally turning to them in the courtroom, said: ‘Your words these past several days have had a significant effect on myself and have shaken me to my core. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.’ Several women groaned when he faced them and sobbed as he spoke. Just before sentencing Dr. Nassar, the judge read parts of a letter he submitted to the court last week that contrasted with his stated contrition. In the letter, he complained about his treatment in a separate federal child pornography case and wrote that his accusers in this case were seeking news media attention and money. ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ he wrote in the letter, eliciting audible gasps from the spectators when the judge read the line.”
  • This is key: “The case and its ramifications are far from over. It has ignited outrage in the sports world and beyond, leading to the resignation this week of the chairman and several board members of the governing body for gymnastics in the United States, U.S.A. Gymnastics. Last week, the organization cut ties with the private training center at a remote Texas ranch where some of the abuse occurred. And at Michigan State, where Dr. Nassar spent years on the faculty and treated many of its athletes, an outpouring of political pressure led to the resignation of the university’s president, Lou Anna K. Simon, late Wednesday. Ms. Simon’s resignation may have just been the beginning at Michigan State, as the N.C.A.A. on Tuesday formally opened an investigation into the university’s conduct.”
  • “The United States Olympic Committee, which some of the young women condemned for not doing enough to protect them when they joined the team and had to continue to see Dr. Nassar, said on Wednesday it was now taking action. Moments after the judge delivered her sentence, the Olympic committee issued a statement calling on the entire U.S.A. Gymnastics board to resign and promising additional steps to investigate Dr. Nassar’s conduct and ensure athletes are not harmed in the future.”
  • “As part of a lawsuit settlement, [Olympic Gold Medalist McKayla] Maroney had signed a nondisclosure agreement with U.S.A. Gymnastics that would have caused her to be fined more than $100,000 for speaking about the abuse. After several celebrities offered to pay the fine, the organization said it would not fine her.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Nassar will die in prison, but it still feels like he’s getting off easy. And so, too, are those who protected him. In her resignation letter, MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon said, somewhat disconcertingly, "As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger” [The Hill]. But as The Detroit News reports, Simon knew, or should have known, something was amiss.
  • “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. 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.”
  • WaPo: “Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) called Wednesday for a congressional investigation into ‘the role of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Gymnastics in allowing serial pedophile Dr. Larry Nassar unsupervised access to hundreds of girls across three decades. … In a letter sent to the Senate majority and minority leaders … Shaheen claimed that while Nassar ‘was effectively sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault … not all of the responsible parties have been appropriately held to account.’”
  • From CNN: “Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, called the sentence a victory. But she called for further investigation of what she called the worst sexual assault scandal in history, starting with institutions connected to him. She identified four by name: Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, both of whom employed Nassar during his decades of abuse, as well as the United States Olympic Committee and Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan, where Nassar admitted to sexually abusing athletes. … ‘Why could Nassar get away with sexually abusing little girls for so very long? How could two major institutions surrounding him so abhorrently fail at protecting the children and women under their care?’”
  • That’s a damn good question. It deserves an answer.

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