While former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse trial has reached its conclusion, there are still many unanswered questions. Victims and their advocates are asking how Nassar went unstopped for so long and, more importantly, what can be done to protect athletes.
Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on January 24, 2018 for sexually abusing gymnasts under his care. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina delivered a scathing statement in court that encapsulated the rage directed at the disgraced team doctor.
“You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” Aquilina told Nassar before sentencing him, “Anywhere you walk, destruction would occur to those most vulnerable. I just signed your death warrant.”
Who Knew about Larry Nassar and When?
An astonishing 156 survivors testified in court against Nassar. Only now is the alleged inaction and willful blindness of different institutions and individuals being addressed.
For example, a parent complained to coach John Geddert, who operated the Twistars USA Gymnastics Club, about Nassar’s treatments in 1997, according to a lawsuit filed in 2017. But Geddert is accused of failing to investigate the allegations. Furthermore, he continued to recommend Nassar’s services to athletes.
Evidence has also mounted that 14 Michigan State University representatives had knowledge of allegations against Larry Nassar in the two decades before he was finally arrested. According to The Detroit News, eight women reported Nassar for alleged abuse. At least one claim reached the university’s president, Lou Anna Simon.
On January 24, Simon resigned from her position at Michigan State University. However, her letter of resignation is noticeably devoid of any acknowledgement of her own personal responsibility for what happened.
USA Gymnastics has undergone its own upheaval. The organization’s chairman and two board members resigned on January 22. The Karolyi Ranch, where U.S. Olympic gymnasts were trained and Nassar conducted many assaults, will no longer be used as the National Training Center.
“From that first camp [at the Karolyi Ranch] at 10 years old, I dreaded going back every single time for the next nine years,” said Mattie Larson, a former member of the U.S. National Team.
Civil suits from Larry Nassar’s victims are now in the works against Michigan State, USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee, and Twistars USA Gymnastics Club.