There is much blame to go around and others still to be held accountable for the widespread and unconscionable behavior of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.
There were far too many people — adults, professionals and gymnastics officials — willing to look away or make excuses for his behavior to protect their personal power, their sport and their institution.
More than 150 victims came forward in a Michigan courtroom this week to confront Nassar. Say that number out loud — over 150. The sheer number of victims and the length of time in which the abuse occurred is astonishing and sickening.
Nassar will likely never get out of prison, a fate not harsh enough, but one that at least puts an end to his wickedness.
But as Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said: “This is bigger than Larry Nassar.” These girls and young women were let down by so many. USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, deserve all of the blame being heaped upon them. As do so many others who did know . . . who should have known . . . who should have acted . . . who should have stopped it.
As another victim said: “This is what it looks like when the adults in authority do not respond properly to disclosures of sexual assault . . . This is what it looks like when institutions create a culture where a predator can flourish unafraid and unabated, and this is what it looks like when people in authority refuse to listen, put friendships in front of the truth, fail to create or enforce proper policy and fail to hold enablers accountable.”
Reading the victims’ statements is heartbreaking . . . One victim stated to Nassar: “You’ve created an army of warrior women. This army doesn’t have a white flag to wave. There is no white flag to wave when it comes to protecting little girls and their future.”
We all need to work to keep our children safe from sexual predators. We all need to take action when we suspect abuse or when someone reports abuse. We all need to learn from the incredible failures that have taken place and the horror that these victims have endured. The judge sent a strong message with the sentencing of Nassar, but there’s much more work to be done.
We all have to do better.