Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State sports doctor, has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years behind bars for using his trusted medical position to sexually abuse girls under the guise of medical treatment.
Sexual abuse is more than a disturbing physical act. It causes psychological and emotional harm that affects a victim’s life forever. The seven-day hearing included testimony from 156 accusers who told of the shattered psyches, the suicide attempts and the torturous guilt that resulted from Nassar’s abuse. Accusers said he would use his ungloved hands to penetrate them while they were on a table seeking help for various injuries. Victims include Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, as well as athletes at Michigan State University and at USA Gymnastics.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina described Nassar’s decision to assault as precise, calculated and manipulative. Upon sentencing, she proudly told him: “It is my honour and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable”.
When the hearing concluded the courtroom broke into applause. Justice was served because woman had the courage to get up and speak up. It is important to remember each and every one of us has a voice.
In this particular instance, Rachael Denhollander was the first person to file a criminal complaint against Nassar in 2016. That led to more than 100 women coming forward to saying they also had been sexually abused. It started with one and ended with many. The Detroit News describes Denhollander as the “rock that tipped the avalanche of strength and courage and all these women coming forward.”
She is recognized as a hero and warrior for what she has done and her actions along with her “sister survivors” has brought sweeping attention to the prevalence of sexual assault and shows just how integrated male harassment of women is in our society.