Predator Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life in the cold confines of a prison cell, after 160 young women came forward, including decorated Olympians Simone Biles and Aly Raisman (pictured), to testify against the former physician of the US gymnastics team.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on January 25, 2018

Disgraced former US Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar has been handed a jail sentence of up to 175 years for sexual assaulting young gymnasts in his care.

Approximately 160 of his victims came forward to make statements over four days, sharing the suffering they endured under the guise of medical treatment.

“I’ve just signed your death warrant,” Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar, who was involved in four Olympic Games.

“It is my honour and privilege to sentence you because you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.

“You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable.”

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty in November to seven counts of first-degree sex assault in Ingham County, and he will be sentenced over additional charges in Eaton County next week. He is already serving a 60-year sentence for child pornography charges.

The victims

Among the long-list of young women molested by Nassar was three-time gold medal winning gymnast Aly Raisman.

In a blistering and heart-wrenching statement, Raisman described the helplessness of the situation.

“Imagine how it feels to be an innocent teenager in a foreign country, hearing a knock on the door, and it’s you,” she said, while bravely staring at Nassar. “I don’t want you to be there, but I don’t have a choice.”

“Treatments with you were mandatory, you took advantage of that.

“Lying on my stomach with you on my bed, insisting that your inappropriate touch would heal my pain… You are so sick I can’t comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you.

“You lied to me and manipulated me to think, that when you treated me, you were closing your eyes because you had been working hard when you were really touching me, an innocent child, to pleasure yourself.”

World Championship silver-medallist Mattie Larson retired from gymnastics at 19, after five years of torment at the hands of Nassar.

So scared was Larson of being sent back to the now infamous Texas gymnasium Karolyi Ranch, she would physically harm herself to be unable to train.

“I was taking a bath when I decided to push the bath mat aside, splash water on the tiles and banged the back of my head hard enough to get a bump so it seemed like I slipped… I was willing to physically hurt myself to get out of the abuse that I received at the ranch… I thought injuring myself was the only way I could get out of going to camp,” she told the courtroom.

She then detailed the assault. “My injury was very close to my pelvic bone, so when Larry put his fingers in my vagina for the first time, I thought it was some internal treatment,” she said.

“That was the only injury I ever had that was remotely close to my genital region… no matter what Larry was treating me for over the years, his fingers always seemed to find his way inside me, never using gloves.”

She was also abused after dislocating both ankles while in training with team USA.

“At one camp she dislocated both ankles and he molested her but didn’t even wrap her ankles. She crawled or got around on a rolling chair, and he abused her on a table behind the couch as her friends watched TV,” recounted a journalist from The Gymternet.

Heat on USAG

Many of the young women have also taken aim at USA Gymnastics (USGA) and Michigan State University, which employed Nassar, for enabling his predatory behaviour.

“Larry, my coaches, and USAG turned the sport I fell in love with as a kid into my personal living hell,” Larson said.

Larry, my coaches, and USAG turned the sport I fell in love with as a kid into my personal living hell.

Then in her testimony, Raisman eloquently accused the sport’s governance of turning a blind eye.

“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change,” she said. “But how are we to believe in change when these organisations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem?

“It’s easy to put out statements saying that athlete care is the highest priority. But they’ve been saying that for years when all the while this nightmare was happening.

“False assurances from organisations are dangerous, especially when people want so badly to believe them. They make it easier to look away from the problem and enable bad things to continue to happen.”

This was reiterated by Simone Biles, who won four gold medals at the Rio Olympics.

“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it my fault?’ I now know the answer to those questions. No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others,” she said.

The US Olympic Committee has threatened to decertify the USAG if it “does not fully embrace the necessary changes in their governance structure along with other mandated changes under review right now”.

USAG’s chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley resigned this week, and all current directors have been told to stand down by the USOC.

In a letter to athletes, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said an investigation had begun “to examine how an abuse of this proportion could have gone undetected for so long”, and the committee would “help create a culture that fosters safe sport practice, offers athletes strong resources in education and reporting, and ensures the healing of the victims and survivors”.

“The purpose of this message is to tell all of Nassar’s victims and survivors, directly, how incredibly sorry we are,” he wrote.

“We have said it in other contexts, but we have not been direct enough with you.

“We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren’t afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams. The Olympic family is among those that have failed you.”

A Detroit News investigation uncovered damning accounts that at least 14 Michigan State University representatives were told of the abuse over the two decades before Nassar’s arrest.

No fewer than eight women came forward during those years, but nothing was done. There is now growing pressure on MSU president Lou Anna Simon to resign, with senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow adding their weight today.

Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, who was the first public accuser and has been described by Judge Aquilina as “the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom”, says MSU officials should be held accountable for Nassar’s crimes.

“A monster was stopped last year, after decades of being allowed to prey on women and little girls, and he wasn’t stopped by a single person who could have, and should have stopped him at least 20 years ago,” she told The News.

“He was stopped by the victims, who had to fight through being silenced, being threatened, being mocked, by the officials at MSU who they appealed to for help.

“And now the very people who should have been protecting us all along… have thumbed their nose at any semblance of accountability.”