How the World Constantly Lets Down Larry Nassar’s Victims


Rena Laverty/EPA

The Item details how Lassar was labeled as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” by a survivor and faced charges of child pornography, sexual assault of a minor, and tampering with evidence.

Cynthia Zhou, Staff Writer

Three years ago, when Kyle Stephens testified against Lawrence G. Nassar, BBC reported that she said, “It was such a benign action until you grow up and realise it was a vile thing.” Three years before that, the accusations against Larry Nassar for abuse had risen into public lighting. Six years later, the drawn-out case regarding the disgraced doctor has yet to be settled.

As the former physician for the American gymnastics team, Nassar hid under the guise of an attentive doctor who tended for elite athletes. He successfully dispelled all doubt cast upon him by former patients, all of whom were girls accusing him of sexual assault. Each institution that Nassar had a foothold in, such as the U.S. Olympic Committee, turned a blind eye toward the young athletes; they trusted the word of the adult over accusers, who were merely children.

It wasn’t until 2016, when The Indianapolis Star released investigative reports on coaches abusing athletes, the admiring attention turned hostile on Nassar (New York Times). More victims raised their voices until a rage-filled chorus accused Nassar of sexual assault and molestation. By 2018, there were 499 identified victims (The Cut).

Gianna Amato, a current student at Ramapo, was a former gymnast. As someone with similar athletic experience as the survivors, she voiced her concern on the powers of an authoritative figure. “As someone who used to do gymnastics, it’s scary to think that someone in a position of power, the alleged physician of these young kids, could do something so horrific and get away with it for so long.”

Coach Michelle, the head coach of Ramapo’s gymnastics team shares similar sentiments. When news regarding Nassar—who was an authoritative figure in gymnastics like she is—emerged, Coach Michelle was shocked. “I was shocked and mortified. Being a gymnast is hard enough, and having to deal with abuse like that and having no one to turn to is so sad,” she stated.

With Nassar sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison—where he, according to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, “is going to wither”—a new case has arisen (BBC). Respected gymnasts with the likes of Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney criticized law enforcement for their lack of concern regarding the abuse. According to The Independent, Biles contends that the FBI had “turned a blind eye.” In the same article, she also proclaimed, “We have been failed, and we deserve answers,”

As stated in Reuters, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco responded, “I can inform the committee today that the recently confirmed assistant attorney general for the criminal division is currently reviewing this matter, including new information that has come to light.”

A criminal examination of the FBI’s actions has subsequently begun, where the criminal division of the Justice Department will evaluate the decision to not charge the FBI agents who failed to properly handle the Nassar investigation. The two individuals in question are former Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbot and former supervisory special agent Michael Langeman (Reuters).

Abbott breached rules regarding ethics by attempting to gain a job with the U.S. Olympic Committee and proceeded to lie during an interview with the General Inspector’s office. Langeman documented only one victim’s interview a year after it was conducted and riddled her statements with false information. Abbott retired in 2018 while Langeman was fired (Reuters).