No More Silence: Victims of Larry Nassar’s Sexual Assault Speak Up

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No More Silence: Victims of Larry Nassar’s Sexual Assault Speak Up

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Former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes on Wednesday, January 24. During the trial, 156 women shared their stories of sexual assault—and were finally heard.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina opened the courtroom to women wanting to give their personal testimonies. Courageous woman after courageous woman shared their story. With a kind heart and firm hand, Judge Aquilina listened to every single story.

“It is my privilege to sentence you to forty years in prison,” said Judge Aquilina.

Rachael Denhollander, a gymnast who was sexually assaulted by Nassar at 15-years-old, was the first woman to publicly accuse him. She started the movement by condemning Nassar and ended it by being the last person to testify in court.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in court

“Larry is the most dangerous type of abuser. One who is capable of manipulating his victims through coldly calculated grooming methodologies, presenting the most wholesome and caring external persona as a deliberate means to ensure of steady stream of young children to assault,” said Denhollander.

Since Denhollander spoke out against Nassar’s abuse in August 2016, women began to come forward to tell their stories. Olympian McKayla Maroney gave her testimony of sexual abuse on twitter, opening up the conversation on social media for girls affected by Nassar.

“It started when I was 13-years-old, at one of my First Nation Team training camps in Texas, and it didn’t end until I left the sport,” said Maroney.

Over the course of four days in court, 156 women shared their story.

“Larry, you do now realize that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force, and you are nothing. The tables have turned, Larry. We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere,” said Aly Raisman, Olympic gold medalist.

The Fierce Five performing in the 2012 Olympics

Nassar’s victims were girls as young as six-years-old. He abused innocent young people all the way into their teenage years, claiming to be healing them. When patients came to him with something as simple as back pain or shin splints, his “treatment” included penetrating them for long periods of times often ungloved.

Many of the women assaulted by Nasser are Olympic gold medalists, including Simone Biles, Jordyn Wieber, Maroney and Raisman. We watched them perform their hearts out on the floor, while offscreen they were being abused by Nassar.

“I thought that training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing that I would ever have to do. But, in fact, the hardest thing I would ever have to do is process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar,” said Wieber.

The real question is how did Nassar get away with it for so long? The answer is simple—no one was listening.

The first claim of sexual assault occurred in 1992 while Nassar was a student at Michigan State University. He went on to receive his degree in osteopathic therapy in 1994, despite the claims against him.

While Nasser was practicing as a doctor in 1997, Larissa Boyce notified her coach, Kathie Klagues, of Nassar’s uncomfortable penetrative treatment. Kaluges denied that it was sexual assault and failed to report the case. Not only that, but she forced Boyce to continue seeing Nassar for treatment, exposing her to continued sexual abuse. Boyce is only one of many victims Nassar assaulted at MSU.

In 1999, softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez informed multiple staff members that Nasser was being sexually inappropriate during medical exams. However, no action was taken to stop the doctor.

Larry Nasser listening to testimony after testimony

“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.

Think about how many young women would have been saved from trauma if the University would have investigated the allegations years ago.

Up until 2016, Larry Nassar was considered a world renowned doctor. When girls spoke out against his “treatments,” they were shamed for not understanding the difference between sexual assault and medical treatments. Their response was simply that Nassar was an Olympic doctor who knew what he was doing.

“It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated’” said Maroney.

The USA gymnastics association gave him countless awards, and he was even involved in the process of making laws to protect athletes—all while he was abusing them.

Rachael Denhollander bravely giving the final testimony

He ignored medical protocols such as asking for consent, wearing gloves or having other doctors present during examinations. He was granted permission to enter underage girl’s room and examine them without any supervision during the Olympics. The USA Gymnastics team not only permitted, but required women to be treated by Nassar, submitting them to sexual abuse.

“Larry Nassar did not arise in isolation. Rather, we saw the worst sexual assault scandal in history unfold because a predator was left in power for decades despite warning signs, despite red flags, [and] despite direct reports of assault,” said Denhollander.

From now on, these women will never be silenced. One man made too many girls grow up too fast. Larry Nassar’s sentence is a message to sex predators—their actions will not be tolerated.

“Let this sentence strike fear in anyone who thinks it is okay to hurt another person. Abusers, your time is up. The survivors are here, standing tall, and we are not going anywhere,” said Raisman.

One in five girls and one in twenty boys are victims of sexual assault. The nation cannot be silent about it anymore. It is time to take action against sexual predators.






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