Team USA doctor is the target of an ever-increasing cascade of sexual assault allegations. The most recent comes from Florida Gators gymnasts and alumni. The doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to up to 125 years in prison for his role in the serial predation of women who were put under his care. His list of victims now totals nearly 500 leaving many to wonder how this could have gone on for so long without justice being served.
The survivors are suing USA Gymnastics, the governing body tasked with overseeing the sport. USA Gymnastics conducted a 5-week-long investigation and submitted their findings to the FBI.
Allegations Begin in 2016
Nassar’s chosen speciality was pelvic medical procedures. Gymnasts under his care were advised by coaching staff to seek treatment every day. Just before allegations of sexual assault against Nassar were made public, he had contacted colleagues concerning the charges and the potential for misinterpretation of his work. Many were quite willing. After all, Nassar was a giant in the field of sports medicine and for years he had cultivated an image as the wholesome doctor.
The girls ranged in age from their mid twenties to eight years old. He had managed to continue his predation for 20 years built on an image as an industry leader. His job was to help gymnasts manage the pain associated with the sport. Nassar’s “treatment” often involved the penetration of girl’s vagina with his fingers. Abuse scenarios like this would go on for years with patients and were unreported. Many of his victims were young enough to not even realize that they were being abused.
And so the cycle perpetuated itself with Nassar using medical jargon to explain away his procedures.
The Gymnastics Community Loved and Trusted Larry Nassar
Despite being a sexual predator, Larry Nassar was engaging and well like in the community. He was considered “the” expert on pelvic floor treatment. Nassar was allowed easy access to victims who were encouraged to seek treatment from their doctor. In some ways, the culture of sports fostered a taboo against complaining. Athletes were taught from a young age that pain and discomfort were a part of what it takes to be great. In that way, Nassar remained insulated from widescale complaints from his victims. Nassar was placed on the board for developing the best practices for treating young female athletes. This included ethical considerations. He authored books, did videos, and was published in numerous journals. Many victims believed that his abuse was just a part of the treatment.
As a result, questioning his treatment or speaking negatively about the doctor represented a threat to the young athlete’s standing in the gymnastics community. Beyond that, many of the young women trusted and respected Nassar. They saw him as a confidant. Those who did complain were silenced by the culture and told that this was normal.
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