Larry Nassar's Criminal Sentence Is One Aspect of Accountability

Long-time USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, was recently sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young patients for two decades. However, a criminal sentence is just the beginning of the fallout from Larry Nassar’s abuse.

Not only were more than 100 young gymnasts subject to sexual abuse, but many were failed by their role models, coaches and superiors. Nassar was able to abuse patients for decades, while allegations reached a large number of Michigan State representatives over that time. Complaints also fell on deaf ears at USA Gymnastics.

As mentioned in a previous blog, athletes such as Aly Raisman state that the national organization USA Gymnastics enabled Nassar’s criminal behavior. Not only did the organization fail to uncover Nassar’s decades of abuse, but allegedly covered the abuse up. Additionally Michigan State sports is being investigated for their culpability in years of abuse.

Lawsuits involving over 100 victims

Not only can abusers be criminally charged, but responsible parties can be held accountable civilly in lawsuits. Michigan State and USA Gymnastics are among some of the defendants in a large number of lawsuits regarding sexual abuse. More than 100 accusers are alleging that the two organizations failed to warn or protect the girls, even causing intentional emotional distress.

Investigators are looking into the actions of Nassar’s associates at Michigan State. Many are accused of knowing about the doctor’s abusive behavior before it was released in the news. Abuse victims claim that Michigan State gymnastics coaches and trainers listened to the gymnasts’ complaints, either doing nothing or even discouraging them from filing formal complaints.

Worse yet, USA Gymnastics allegedly paid victims to cover up the abuse. McKayla Maroney alleges that the organization paid her to stay quiet about the abuse that Nassar inflicted since she was 13 years old.

Changes are underway thanks to abuse survivors

A large number of changes are headed for both Michigan State and the USA Gymnastics, such as board members and Michigan State President resigning. USA Gymnastics plans on overhauling employees, policies and training plans. However, many people are left wondering how abuse could have gone on for decades undetected.

This is portrait of what many young women and men face around the country: abuse at the hands of powerful and respected individuals, and pressure to be silent at the hands of institutions. Fortunately, abuse survivors are banning together to make a difference and hold abusers accountable.

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