The Tragic Events Involving USA/MSU Gymnastics

**Some of the links in this article contain graphic content**

“Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

This was the concluding statement made by Kyle Stephens during her courageous court statements this afternoon at Larry Nassar’s criminal sentencing hearing. As reported on at CNN, “Stephens defiantly stared down Nassar in a Michigan courtroom to inform him that the abuse was over, and his time as a free man was up.”

It’s hard to know where to begin this horrific story, which is sadly still ongoing.

On November 10, 2017, Nassar – who was a doctor for the USA Gymnastics national team for nearly two decades and an assistant professor/team physician at Michigan State University (MSU) for decades as well – pled guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual acts. ESPN reports that Nassar’s crimes involve victims as young as six years old.

It is important to point out that this plea came several months after Nassar pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges, which led to a 60 year prison sentence.

Stephens is sadly one of the many women that Nassar has violated in the past. As NBC News points out, Stephens is just one of the first of “nearly 100 girls and women who are expected to give statements against Nassar,” over the next several days.

In the recent months leading up to today’s court date, high profile athletes (Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney) have come out and publicly stated that they too were abused by their team’s former doctor.

The length of the timespan of Nassar’s actions is truly remarkable, and the Lansing State Journal has a timeline displaying both Nassar’s decades of working with women and young girls and the trail of abuse that he left. However, the timeline is slightly outdated, so click here for more recent information.

By the end of his current sentencing hearing, Nassar will be going away to prison for a long time, but the trail of tragedy that he has left behind him was not forged by him alone.

A man who has had over 100 different women file lawsuits filed against him, with some of those lawsuits stating that Nassar was sexually abusive in the early 1990s, most likely does not maintain positions of power within USA Gymnastics (attending four olympic games) and MSU for so long without help from high-profile enablers.

John Barr and Dan Murphy wrote the following in their article for ESPN The Magazine:

Understanding how Nassar gained unfettered access to young girls and young women over the course of a quarter-century — despite repeated warning signs — means confronting an uncomfortable truth: He didn’t gain that access alone. Nassar was surrounded by a collection of adults who enabled his predatory behavior — a group that included coaches of club, collegiate and elite-level gymnasts, the USA Gymnastics organization, medical professionals, administrators and coaches at Michigan State University, and gymnasts’ parents, whom he groomed just as effectively as those he violated. Now that so much of the Nassar tragedy has been exposed, a lingering question remains: Were each of those enablers complicit or simply conned by a man described as a master manipulator?

Journalists are not the only ones calling for questions to be answered by those who worked with Nassar in his previous places of employment.

During her appearance on Outside the Lines this afternoon, Aly Raisman called for there to be an investigation into the USA Gymnastics administrative handling of this controversy.

Additionally, several weeks ago, Gretchen Whitmer, a former prosecutor who is running to be the 2018 Democratic nominee for Michigan governor, not only called on the MSU president to resign but also publicly requested to the Chairman of the MSU Board of Trustees that a “thorough independent investigation [take place] into the Nassar crimes and all other related offenses.”

(The image at the top of this post is from the NY Daily News: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

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