The Nassar Trial Explained
February 12th, 2018
A combination of abuse and inaction has prompted another debate on sexual assault
On June 22, 2012, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 cases of sexual assault of boys during a 15-year period and was sentenced on October 9, 2012, to 30 to 60 years in prison. Today, the Penn State child sex abuse scandal is widely thought of as one of the biggest scandals in collegiate sports history. However, a case of the same disgraceful ilk has been uncovered in East Lansing, Michigan involving Dr Lawrence Gerard Nassar.
Nassar, a former national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics, was convicted on January 24 of sexual assault of minors and sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. As of January 31, 265 girls have accused Nassar of sexual misconduct including notable gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and Mckayla Maroney. Another victim was Kyle Stephens.
Stephens was six years old when Nassar molested her, but her parents did not believe her at first, as they were close friends with the Nassar family. According to Stephens, this conflict caused her relationship with her parents to become dysfunctional. Furthermore, her parent’s insistence that she apologize to Nassar for her supposed false claims made Stephens question the legitimacy of her experience. Despite health issues, she also suggested that her father’s suicide was a result of the guilt he felt when he learned that her accusations were true after he had been in denial for years.
Reports have surfaced as to who knew what when, and the two primary culprits thus far are USA gymnastics and Michigan State University, the latter where Nassar was a faculty member.
In spite of Nassar’s pedophilic behaviour, he was still able to keep his position with USA gymnastics for close to 20 years, as well as his physician’s practice for 30 years, until he lost his medical license in 2016.
Reports have surfaced as to who knew what when, and the two primary culprits thus far are USA gymnastics and Michigan State University, the latter where Nassar was a faculty member. One report suggested that Mckayla Maroney was allegedly paid $1.25 million by USA gymnastics to avoid speaking out about the abuse she endured by Nassar. Additionally, because of Nassar’s ties to Michigan State, investigations have begun to see whether this behaviour manifested in other areas of the athletic department. Although other coaches were not guilty of sexual misconduct, investigations did find that the coaches often ignored reports of cases of sexual misconduct against members of their teams. Moreover, this negligent behaviour not only pertained to the coaches but was also found to extend to the administration at Michigan State. It was concluded that both USA gymnastics and Michigan State University acted as enablers of Nassar’s behaviour by refusing to acknowledge the victims by giving them due process. Hence all the members of the U.S.A. Gymnastics board, as well as Michigan State’s president and athletic director, have resigned over the past year.
While it is disheartening, this story ultimately illustrates the importance of authority figures’ reporting sexual misconduct instead of exploiting victims’ athletic talents by silencing or ignoring their claims. At this time, Michigan state’s attorney general is investigating how Nassar got away with his actions, and MSU students are protesting over the pathetic efforts of their university to create a safe environment for students. Meanwhile, the search for a resolution to this kind of behaviour remains.