A Gymnast’s Thoughts on the Outcome of the Larry Nassar Case
Gymnastics is one of the hardest sports in the world, I myself have had 5 serious injuries including a fractured back that required a back brace for three months followed by months of physical therapy to follow. To think that Larry Nassar was a physician that specialized in helping gymnasts heal from serious injuries like mine sent shivers down my spine. I grew up going to school every day and then immediately head to a 4-5 hour gymnastics practice right after. I would have to rush to eat dinner, do homework and shower just to wake up and do it all again the next day, five days a week. Gymnasts that are more focused on making it into the Olympics are sometimes even home-schooled so they have more time to focus on training.
Competitive gymnasts do not have time to be social, we don’t have the luxury to go to football games, homecoming dances, or even the ability to just hang out with our friends outside of school. This is because we’re focused on perfecting our routines for state, regional, national, even world championships. Therefore, if we get injured, we rely solely on our doctors to help us heal from our injuries safely and steadily. Larry Nassar took advantage of these highly trained gymnasts and betrayed their trust. He made them believe the “treatments” he did were the only option in order to heal an injury. Although I was not victimized by Larry Nassar, I do empathize and idolize the brave women that came forward about him. Gymnasts put their blood, sweat, and tears into this sport and to be mistreated by a physician who is supposed to help you heal rather than cause more physical and emotional trauma, is absolutely disgraceful and should have not been silenced by these organizations as long as it was.
Larry Nassar was sentenced 40 to 175 years in prison for seven counts of criminal sexual conduct, as a gymnast and a woman, I could have not been more thrilled. But, after the sentencing the question still remains, how did USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University AND the U.S. Olympic Committee get away with brushing off complaints of sexual harassment and molestation from numerous gymnasts and Olympians for TWENTY years? According to CNN, that investigation is starting now with William Forsyth as the special prosecutor that will be in charge of the investigation. Forsyth’s job will be to look into Michigan State University, and how they failed to intervene in the 20 years that Larry Nassar was conducting sexual abuse right under their noses.
Larry Nassar, 54, was the lead sports physician that treated numerous Olympians like Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglass and Mckayla Maroney to name a few, and numerous female athletes from Michigan State University.
In November, Nassar was charged a separate federal prison sentence of 60 years for counts of child pornography. He will have to complete that sentence before starting his 40 -175-year sentence.
Fierce Five Olympic team member and gold medalist, Mckayla Maroney filed a lawsuit in December against USA Gymnastics, alleging that the organization tried to buy her silence over Nassar. Maroney was to receive a $1.25 million-dollar settlement if she signed a non-disclosure agreement stating that she will remain quiet about Nassar’s abuse. If she were to speak out, she would have to pay a $100,000 fine. When this came to light in the midst of the empowering “#MeToo” movement, model, Chrissy Teigen offered to pay the fine for Maroney. Followed by actress, Kristen Bell and Parks and Recreation creator, Mike Schur offering to split the fine three ways so Mckayla’s voice could be heard.
A total of 156 women read victim impact statements last week at Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan. Only 88 victims were expected to speak, that number nearly doubled as more and more women came forward throughout the week of the sentencing. Judge Aquilina let anyone who wished to speak to have the chance to be heard, then gave personal responses to each woman and praising them for their bravery.
One of the most memorable victim impact statements was read by two-time Olympian and Gold Medalist, Aly Raisman. “We, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force, and you are nothing,” Raisman said, “The tables have turned Larry. We are here. We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.”
After delivering Nassar’s sentence Judge Aquilina stated, “I’ve just signed your death warrant” she proceeded, “I find that you don’t get it, that you’re a danger. That you remain a danger.”
Since the sentencing, USA Gymnastics announced that they cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch, where the national gymnastics team used to train and where the abuse of Nassar took place. Followed by, three members of the USA Gymnastics board stepping down under pressure. The US Olympic Committee even considered de-certifying USA Gymnastics. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun released a statement apologizing for failing to stop Nassar’s abuse, “We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren’t afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams” followed by, “The Olympic family is among those that failed you.”