By Trevonte Harris, Staff Writer
Over 150 women have spoken up against former sports physician Larry Nassar, who used his esteem and prestige to sexually assault and exploit women. Larry Nassar was a world-renowned sports physician who was employed by USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. This man will hopefully now live the rest of his life in jail and with a target on his back. He will never have privacy, and for the rest of his life, he will have to watch his back. Many people will turn a blind eye to what happens to him behind bars, just like the institutions that employed him turned a blind eye to the mountains of abuse allegations against him.
After this scandal, the entire USA Gymnastics Board of Directors resigned and a police department near Michigan State University formally apologized for not taking the accusations seriously. Law enforcement is supposed to investigate every complaint, no matter how true or ridiculous a case may sound. Just imagine how many victims could have been spared if just one person took it seriously.
Now, with the #MeToo movement, the most successful people in Hollywood are all at risk of having their abuses brought to light. But this movement isn’t just about Hollywood anymore. It’s about everyone having a voice to speak up and be heard, which is something that everyone in the United States is entitled due to the freedom of speech we are granted. Many countries do not have the freedom to speak their mind to peacefully protest, and we should never take that privilege for granted. The #MeToo movement has created an environment where everyone has a voice. The movement has become so prominent that Oprah Winfrey gave a very personal speech at the Golden Globes. The movement is very close to Winfrey’s heart, as she herself has been a victim of sexual assault.
U.S. Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina read a letter that Nassar wrote to the court, and in the letter, Nassar claimed he was manipulated into pleading guilty and called the women liars. Now, I always advise people to tell the truth, because the truth will set you free. Nassar lied, cheated, and has exploited countless young women. At Nassar’s hearing, where he was sentenced to up to 175 years, Aquilina told Nassar, “I just signed your death warrant.”
While Nassar did apologize for his actions, it is far too late for meaningless words. He is only apologetic about being caught and having to face the repercussions, not because he is sorry for what he did. Nassar said that hearing the victims stories would be with him for the rest of his life, and I hope that it haunts him. Organizations like USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and the U.S. Olympic Committee all ignored the people who came forward, which is actually terrifying. It’s like telling someone that you saw a murder and no one believed you; you would spend the rest of your days in fear not only of the murderer but also of yourself, filled with self-doubt. The trauma caused by Nassar is immeasurable and irreversible, as many of the women may never fully heal.
In the letter, Nassar talked about how the girls and women loved him as a physician, claiming that they came back time and time again. Amanda Thomashow, one of the victims, spoke up, and the organizations that were supposed to protect her told her that she didn’t know the difference between a sexual assault and a medical practice. Personally, I believe that Nassar deserves whatever he gets, but standing back and looking at the various institutions that looked the other way, I can only hope they have learned from this tragedy.