Larry Nassar, former world-renowned sports physician for the United States Gymnastics and Michigan State University, is facing charges of up to 175 years in jail after sexually abusing more than 150 women and girls over the past two decades.
Over a seven day stent in Lansing, Michigan, 156 victims spoke directly to Nassar and the judge in court, telling similar experiences of how Nassar took advantage of the power imbalance of doctor vs. patient, sexually assaulting them and then explaining that it was a form of treatment.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina signed Nassar’s fate after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual assault and admitted to using his trusted position as a doctor to assault and molest girls under the guise of treatment. On a separate offense, Nassar was already sentenced to 60 years for charges of federal child pornography.
“I’ve just signed your death warrant,” said Aquilina, according to CNN. “I find that you don’t get it, that you’re a danger. That you remain a danger.”
Nassar offered a short statement to his victims and the public saying, “Your words these past several days…have had a significant emotional effect on myself and has shaken me to my core. I also recognize that what I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain, trauma, and emotional destruction that all of you are feeling. There are no words that can describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
The victims spoke of their personal stories of the abuse they encountered and questioned how it went on for decades without higher authority positions of USA Gymnastics or Michigan State University recognizing what Nassar was doing. The entire board of USA Gymnastics announced resignations; Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis announced his resignation, while Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon has been advised to step down after questions of her knowledge about Dr. Nassar’s behavior.
The NCAA is conducting a formal investigation and looking into whether Michigan State violated any NCAA rules in its handling of Larry Nassar allegations.
“The NCAA has sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State University regarding potential NCAA rules violations related to the assaults Larry Nassar perpetrated against girls and young women, including some student-athletes at Michigan State,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Some of Nassar’s victims reported sexual abuse to Michigan State, just to be dismissed.
“I reported it. Michigan State University, the school I loved and trusted, had the audacity to tell me that I did not understand the difference between sexual assault and a medical procedure,” said Amanda Thomashow, a student at Michigan State.
Similar events went on behind the scenes of USA Gymnastics but they went even further to cover it up. McKayla Maroney, a part of the “Fierce Five” Olympic gymnastics team, was paid by USA Gymnastics to keep quiet about sexual abuse from Nassar, which started when she was 13 years old. The lawsuit alleged that USA Gymnastics had a plan to let Nassar leave quietly, while silencing his victims as much as possible.
The USA Olympic Committee has recently called for an “independent third party to examine how an abuse of this proportion could have gone undetected for so long.”
Nassar will still face one more sentencing at the end of the month, but Judge Aquilina made it clear that he will be spending the rest of his life in prison.
“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you,” Aquilina told Nassar. “You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable.”