“Nothing can change what Larry Nassar did to me.” - Katelyn Skrabis
Larry Nassar, former physician at Michigan State University and team doctor for USA gymnastics was sentenced 40 to 175 years in prison on Wednesday, January 2018. He admitted to assaulting and molesting girls under the guise of medical treatment and has been accused of molesting at least 250 girls, among them Olympian gymnasts, since at least 1992.
“I thought he was a famous doctor,” said Nicole Soos. “There was no way he would do anything inappropriately in front of my mom. I was wrong.” - Nicole Soos
The sentencing ends the one week of victim impact statements that were a part of Nassar’s plea deal. One hundred and fifty-six women spoke, each of them sharing their stories of how Nassar had abused them only to be told it was a form of treatment.
“I reported you to police immediately and had a rape kit done … you had the audacity to tell [police] I misunderstood the treatment because I wasn’t comfortable with my body.” - Brianne Randall
Many of the women have said that they tried to report and speak up about the treatment, but were ignored by both Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, the main organizations in power. Many, including gold-medal winning Olympian, McKayla Maroney, are accusing them of not doing enough, for victim shaming and sweeping the accusations under the rug.
“Neither USA Gymnastics nor the USOC has reached out to me to express sympathy or even offer support — not even to ask, 'How did this happen? What can we do to help?' Why have I and the others not heard anything from USA Gymnastics? Why has the US Olympic committee been silent? Why isn't the USOC here right now?” - Aly Raisman
Before his sentencing, Nassar read an apology letter to the victims, apparently apologizing for what he has done and how the impact statements shook him to his core.
Yet Judge Rosemarie Aquilina was having none of it, and before delivering the sentence read out a letter that Nassar himself had sent to the court in which he defended his medical care and stated that the women were lying, even saying that “The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
After reading the letter, Aquilina says, “[The letter] tells me you still don’t get it,” even tossing the letter to the side, before sentencing Nassar.
“I refuse to let Larry Nassar take anything more from here. He’s already taken enough.” - Amanda Barterian
The letter may have proven that Nassar has not learned from listening to the impact statements, but the impact statements were a necessity that have contributed to the Time’s Up Movement and have allowed the victims to confront their abuser.
“You molested a little girl who had just lost her father … you used my father’s death as another opportunity to manipulate the trust I put in you.” - Kamerin Moore
Most of these innocent girls were hiding the pain and sorrow that Nassar had given them, pretending that everything was okay when it wasn’t. They thought that they were alone, that this hadn’t happened to anyone else, that maybe it was just medical treatment. They were all forced to carry a burden that should not have been theirs, to have a dark cloud follow them for the rest of their lives. Allowing these women to speak out to their abuser himself allows the victims to say everything that they have been holding inside and hopefully give them some peace of mind over the issue.
“Larry, the thing you didn't realize when you were sexually assaulting me ... was that you were building an army of survivors who would ultimately expose you for who you are. From this rubble we will rise as an army of female warriors.” - Amanda Thomashow
The impact statements have not only affected the people in the courtroom, but the whole world through showing the need for change in the matter of dealing with sexual harassment and assault.
“If they would have taken action when it was first reported, they would have saved me.” - Olivia Cowan
It begs the question as to why it is so hard for people to believe victims when they say that they have been abused, and why it is not dealt with immediately once a claim has been made. Why is it so easy for us to believe a claim like, “I got a job promotion,” yet refuse to believe a statement like, “I was sexually abused”? Why do we not question the former statement, yet overanalyze the other?
“No one did anything because no one believed me. They didn’t understand how such a respectable doctor would do something like that. And I don’t understand how a 14-year-old could make that up.” - Katie Rasmussen
This is the ongoing question taking place as the Time’s Up Movement continues to rock Hollywood to its core. Sexual harassment and assault are not something that should be tolerated, and these impact statements acknowledge that. People should not be living in a world where victims are blamed, or have their stories covered up, or simply ignored. These impact statements signal an era of change where people can speak out against abuse and receive support rather than ignorance or dismissal. Through their statements, these women have formed a united front against sexual abuse, one that will continue to make waves in the world.
“Little girls don’t stay little forever, they grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.” - Kyle Stephens
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