THE TALON

Army of Survivors Confront Dr. Larry Nassar

Justice has been served

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Army of Survivors Confront Dr. Larry Nassar

Larry Nassar's reaction listening to the victims' statements

Larry Nassar's reaction listening to the victims' statements

Larry Nassar's reaction listening to the victims' statements

Larry Nassar's reaction listening to the victims' statements

You’ve probably heard of the name Larry Nassar as you’ve flicked on the television to catch up with the latest news or glanced to read a copy of The Post and Courier. In 1986, Nassar joined the USA Gymnastics national team as the head athletic trainer meanwhile working as a team physician and assistant professional at Michigan State University. Soon after, he worked as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Wayne State University while being enrolled in a master’s degree program. Despite being accepted to medical school at Michigan State University, Nassar dropped out and continued his role as a medical coordinator. Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to publicly come forward about the sexual assault that occurred under Dr. Nassar’s medical treatment which opened the door for other victims to feel comfortable coming out. This week more than 160 accusers recounted their stories of sexual abuse.

The behavior of Nassar while he faced his accusers was intriguing as he sat on the witness stand and hid his head in his hands- a sure sign of self-condemnation. He was later given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf which was deemed unlikely to affect Judge Aquilina’s decision. Tears rolled down Nassar’s face as he realized he will never get out of prison and must ruminate on his numerous accounts of assault.

What was so remarkable about this case was the strength and bravery shown by the women who stared down Nassar in court and called themselves an “army of survivors” rather than victims. Member and captain of the 2012 “Fierce Five” and 2016 “Final Five” U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, Aly Raisman, spoke out against her abuser pronouncing, “We, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force, and you are nothing. We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.” Attention was not only focused on Nassar, but also on USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Michigan State University; these institutions employed Nassar for almost two decades and allegedly turned a blind eye to the doctor’s abuse while pressuring victims into silence. With such public tension, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis resigned and is going to hold a news conference on the matter.

After sentencing Nassar to a 40- to 175- year prison sentence on Wednesday, Judge Aquilina remarked, “I just signed your death warrant.” Generally, the public reaction to the verdict of the case seems to be positive considering Nassar is being held accountable, but critics have begun to question whether the judge’s compassion exceeded her judicial mandate. Overall it’s promising to know that justice has been served and Nassar will never have the chance to assault another young woman.

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