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Gymnastics Doctor To Spend Life in Jail

Olympic Rings. Credit: Wikipedia.

Olympic Rings. Credit: Wikipedia.

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A doctor who sexually abused members of the USA Gymnastics team for nearly twenty years will spend the rest of his life in jail.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina on Wednesday, Jan. 24 handed down a sentence of 40 to 175 years in prison to Larry Nassar. Nassar was the team doctor for Michigan State University and the USA Gymnastics team physician. Close to 140 women came forward to accuse Nassar of sexually abusing them during treatments.

Aquilina allowed these women, their coaches, and parents to make statements to the court about what happened.

Women like Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, all successful Olympic gymnasts, came forward and two of them gave powerful statements.

“As for your letter yesterday, you’re pathetic to think that anyone would have any sympathy for you,” Raisman said. “You think this is hard for you? Imagine how all of us feel. Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only beginning to just use them. I will not rest until every last trace of your influence on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer that it is.”

Raisman won two gold medals and a bronze medal at the London Olympics, and a gold and two silver medals at the Rio Olympics.

Judge Aquilina responded empathetically with, “You are part of an unstoppable growing force.”

McKayla Maroney submitted a written statement.

Jordan Wieber, a member of the 2012 “Fierce Five” recounted talking to her teammates McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman after treatments from Nassar, and feeling extremely uncomfortable. They did not understand it.

The saga against Nassar started with Rachel Denhollander, who came forward in 2016 when she was 15. Nassar abused her 10-13 times in 1 year. She spoke to the media, and then they opened a tip line and they got 12 other survivors.

In the next year, another 140 women came forward, saying that Nassar abused them, too.

The first victim to speak at the sentencing was Kyle Stephens. She said that Nassar started abusing her when she was six years old. He was a family friend. She had told her parents what he was doing to her, and when Nassar met with her parents, he was able to convince them that she was lying.

After years of continuing abuse, Stephens came forward after Denhollander, and it was proven that she was not a liar. Her father committed suicide because of the guilt he felt for not believing her.

Stephens is stronger because of her experiences: “Perhaps you have figured it out by now,” she said. “Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

Donna Markham, mother of Chelsey Markham, spoke at the sentencing.

“It all started with him,” she said, talking about how this trauma destroyed her daughter. Chelsey became a drug user, and in 2009, committed suicide.

Many girls who were abused left the “treatments” with Nassar feeling shameful and embarrassed. Many wondered whether they should have spoken up earlier, and whether it would have made a difference.

USA Gymnastics is also under fire by many of the victims for not reporting any of their claims.

A tweet on January 10 from Aly Raisman read: “STOP VICTIM SHAMING. Your statements are hurtful. If you did not believe that I and others were abused [then] why pressure and manipulate us? WE WERE MOLESTED BY A MONSTER [YOU] ENABLED [TO] THRIVE FOR DECADES. You are 100% responsible. It was mandatory to get “treatment” by Nassar.”

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny resigned last March, and Michigan State University’s Athletic Director, Mark Hollis, resigned on Friday, January 20.

 

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Gymnastics Doctor To Spend Life in Jail