Larry Nassar Sentenced to 175 years in Prison

Molly Glus, Lifestyle Section Editor

These girls are working for their dream, and he abused them.

Former United States Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty for sexual abuse on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. According to CNN, 156 girls shared statements in court in Lansing, Michigan about their personal experiences with Nassar, including Olympic medalists Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney.

The sentence is a minimum of 40 years due to a plea agreement, but with both federal and state charges, it is certain he will remain in prison for life.

“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” said Judge Rosemarie Aquilina following the sentencing.

Over a period of seven days amid receiving his sentence, girls from the beginning to end of his career came forward and spoke about how he manipulated and used his status to take advantage of them. Majority of the girls who spoke shared similar stories of how they went to Nassar for treatment on sports injuries, only to be sexually abused and told it was helpful treatment. Many of the survivors also added their experiences with Nassar lead to anxiety and depression.

“Sexual abuse is so much more than a disturbing physical act, it changes the trajectory of a victim’s life, and that is something that nobody has the right to do,” said Kyle Stephens, the first victim to speak, according to CNN.

One of the most notable speeches was from retired gymnast Mattie Larson. According to ABC News, Larson shared that she repeatedly tried to give herself concussions to avoid having to see or be treated by Nassar.

“I was taking a bath, it wasn’t even a hard decision in my mind. I just turned on survival mode. I banged my head as hard as I could to make sure that I got a bump and to make sure that my parents heard the bang,” said Larson to ABC News.

While each statement was read, Nassar was present. CNN reported Nassar would hide his head or wipe away tears.

“I have both power and voice, and I am only just beginning to use them. We will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve, a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors,” said Raisman to Nassar, according to the New York Times.

Additionally, many of the girls shared that they were in denial about what was going on, and were afraid to speak up about what happened. However, when they did speak up about what was going on, they were ignored by organizations such as USA Gymnastics (USAG) or Michigan State University.

“Women and girls banded together to fight for themselves because no one else would do it,” said Rachael Denhollander, the first person to make Nassar’s abuse public in 2016.

Now, these 156 women’s testimonies have caused change to begin in the sports world. According to the New York Times, Michigan State University President, Lou Anna K. Simon was forced to resign due to outcry from the survivors and many others. Additionally, immediately following Nassar’s life sentence was announced, USA Gymnastics ordered all of its board members to step down, and that they will investigate further into Nassar and find ways to prevent this in the future.

The Huffington Post reports that Raisman called out USA Gymnastics and the Olympic Committee in an interview with the Today Show. Raisman stated that the USA Gymnastics Organization still has not reached out to Raisman.

“They [USA Gymnastics Organization] say they want an independent investigation right now, but it’s easy to say that when there’s so much pressure and everyone is watching,” said Raisman.

Before his sentencing, Nassar faced the courtroom gallery and said some last words.

Your words these past several days have had a significant emotional effect on myself. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days,” said Nassar.

Dr. Larry Nassar, 54, appears in court for a plea hearing in Lansing, Michigan on Nov. 22, 2017. Nasser, a sports doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded, guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)