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Already sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on charges for child pornography, Larry Nassar has been sentenced today by an Ingham County, Michigan, courtroom 40 to 175 years in prison by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. The 54-year-old disgraced doctor Nassar will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Nearly 170 statements were read during the seven-day trial, 156 of which were from survivors themselves. The list includes former Olympians like Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, women who chose to remain anonymous, and Rachael Denhollander, the woman who first publicly accused Larry Nassar and who, fittingly, closed the survivor statements on Wednesday shortly before 10 o’clock in the morning.
After closing statements by the prosecution, defense, and Nassar himself, Judge Aquilina proceeded with the sentencing, saying, "I just signed your death warrant."
The Scope: 'Infinite'
The scope of the Nassar case is practically beyond comprehension, essentially "infinite" as the prosecutor put it. The first woman to testify, Kyle Stephens, was a family friend of Nassar and said that Nassar abused her when she was just 6 years old. But these “evil” acts, as Denhollander noted, occurred in every sphere of life and sport: at the youth and club level, at the university level, at the professional level, and at the Olympic level. At the very pinnacle of gymnastics and world sport, Nassar was abusing women and girls.
In the past year, and most strongly in recent days, women have denounced not just Nassar — maybe not even mostly Nassar — but the systems that have held him place. USA Gymnastics has received sharp, constant criticism, and in the wake of the Nassar trial three board members resigned. The organization has also terminated its relationship with the national team training ground Karolyi Ranch near Huntsville, Texas, where Nassar abused many of his victims. Many people have asked if these steps are enough.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has also just announced a review of Michigan State University and its role in Nassar’s crimes. Reports of abuse were made at the East Lansing public university as early as the 1990s, more than two decades ago.
The Voices In & Out Of Court
Aly Raisman: False assurances from organizations are dangerous, especially when people want so badly to believe them. They make it easier to look away from the problem and enable bad things to continue to happen. And even now, after all that has happened, USA Gymnastics has the nerve to say the very same things it has said all along.
Shawn Johnson East: [USA Gymnastics has] overlooked the simple and most important fact that the people they are dealing with are minors and are children and do not have the capabilities to stand up for themselves or to speak for themselves. And when these little girls have devoted their entire lives to one dream, and they feel scared to voice something that has gone wrong because they feel that that dream could be compromised, that is disgusting. I think, as it pertains to USA Gymnastics, every single procedure, rule, guideline, rulebook you’ve ever made needs to be thrown out the window and redone.
Valorie Kondos Field: In listening to all of the brave women who have come forward in the courtroom to confront Nassar, I can’t escape the thought that while he is a mentally deranged pedophile, he is not the head of the monster. The monster is the Culture of USA Gymnastics. Abusive behavior is the example the Karolyis cultivated. The enabling environment they created is what USAG honored. Medals is all the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) cared for… not the athletes earning them. I have believed for many years the head of the monster is lead by our U.S. National Head Coach, Martha Karolyi; and before her Bela Karolyi; and before him Don Peters, who has been banned from coaching for his own sexual abuse allegations. For decades they established a culture of abuse that was widely accepted and mimicked by other club coaches because “we won medals.”
Mattie Larson: I was taking a bath when I decided to push the bath mat aside, splash water on the tiles, get on the floor and bang the back of my head against the tub hard enough to get a bump so it seemed like I slipped. My parents immediately took me to the hospital because they thought I had a concussion. I was willing to physically hurt myself to get out of the abuse that I received at the ranch.
This Cannot Be The End
This is a crudely short selection of powerful statements, in the courtroom and out, but the excerpt shows the breadth of Nassar's actions.
This sentencing cannot be the end — rather, we can only hope that it is the beginning, the start of an all-consuming search for truth, as well as for the lies, deceit, corruption, silent compliance, and manipulation that enabled Larry Nassar to commit the decades-long acts of evil.
To reiterate Denhollander's statement: "How much is a little girl worth?"
If the answer is, like Denhollander rightly says, "everything," then the sentencing of Larry Nassar is indeed only the beginning.