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Many applaud Larry Nassar's sentence as a mark of justice.

Many applaud Larry Nassar’s sentence as a mark of justice.

Megan Smith

Larry Nassar, a former doctor for the USA Olympics national team and osteopathic physician at Michigan State University, has been on trial for  sexually abusing 265 girls and also for child pornography . His victims are spread all across the country, not just in his state of Michigan. Many people had reported Nassar and what he has done, but nothing was ever done to help stop it.

Nassar worked in Michigan State University’s (MSU) athletic trainer program from 1988 until 2016. In 1986, Nassar took on the position on athletic trainer for the U.S. gymnastic national team.  The first victim to publicly accuse Nassar of abuse in 2016 was Rachael Denhollander, a former Olympic gymnast. She was the last to appear at his court hearing and her 36 minute speech was not all about Nassar, but what his sentence can do to show other victims how they can prevail from their misfortune they are given.

There were 265 girls that accused Nassar of abuse. Only 65 of those girls showed up to his courtroom and spoke out about what had happened. These strong women stood up in court against Nassar and were able to speak about their feelings. Many of the victims told parents, police officers, coaches, counselors, and trainers about what was occurring. Not a single person did anything for them because without any evidence of what was happening they couldn’t do anything. There were many times when the university could have taken action, but failed. As Aly Raisman said in court, “If just one adult listened and had the courage and character to act, this tragedy could have been avoided.”  Another victim, Tiffany Thomas said, “I feel like I didn’t protect those who came after me.” However, Thomas did try to protect others; it’s just that the adults surrounding her did not believe her.

Nassar played many people. He got many people to think he was an amazing person and that he didn’t have a bad bone in his body. Working with young girls, it was easy to gain their trust. Nassar was voted National Contributor of the Year by the Elite Gymnastics Coaches Association six times. His abuse was never addressed unti Aug. 30, 2016 when Nassar was released of his clinical and patient duties by MSU, only after Denhollander filed a criminal complaint against him. After Denhollander complained, many girls stood up as well.

At first, Nassar pleaded not guilty to his charges of three counts of first degree sexual conduct. Although on Nov. 29, 2017 Nassar pleaded guilty on three cases of first degree sexual conduct as a plea deal with Michigan Attorney’s general office. Nassar was eventually sentenced to 175 years in prison, on top of his previous sentence of 60 years in prison, in 2016, for having child pornography.

Even though Nassar’s case is tragic and frustrating, it does provide hope. This case shows that many people had the power to stand up to what had happened to them. There are so many people just like Nassar, as sad as it is its true, and making awareness of his case will provide the stepping stone for more cases in the future. Perhaps in the future, victims won’t have their voices ignored so easily.