Final Thoughts on Nassar: How Did It Ever Happen and Last so Long?

It's finally over, at least from a criminal law standpoint.

We have followed the tragic tale told collectively by legions of young women gymnasts who were violated in horrific ways for years by a manipulative and callous doctor with an inside position "treating" elite-level gymnasts. We last noted Larry Nassar in a January 16 blog post, on the day that scores of current and former athletes began confronting him at a hearing featuring victim-impact statements.

Nassar was slapped with a prison sentence of up to 175 years, a term that guarantee he will die behind bars.

How did this ever happen? How was it possible for so many young and vulnerable juveniles to be systematically abused and unable to fight back?

An explanation is given in a recent national media report. That story chronicles the efforts of two gymnasts who told Michigan police that Nassar had sexually assaulted them during medical sessions while he was a doctor at Michigan State University.

Nassar's conduct when confronted by police is revealing and representative of conduct often engaged in by sophisticated sexual perpetrators.

For starters, Nassar did not cower. Instead, he confidently and repeatedly initiated contacts with investigators and prosecutors. He forcefully sought to communicate his singular position as a credentialed and recognized professional in his work. He turned over reports, lecture videos and evidence purporting to show that his methods comprised standard practice followed by other doctors.

And he was believed. Reportedly, prosecutors denied requests to continue criminal investigations three times. Nassar was viewed as credible during interviews. Government lawyers voiced the view that a procedure insisted upon by Nassar that the women termed a sexual crime was in fact "a very innovative and helpful manipulation."

In retrospect, such hideously flawed conclusions seem starkly incredulous.

Thankfully, the truth is now out, with Nassar's victims having been empowered and hopefully aided in their healing by a public accounting of the doctor's decades-long wrongdoing.

One victim made the telling point during her impact statement in court last week that, while Nassar was violating victims, he was also "building an army of survivors" who would eventually confront and hold him accountable.

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