How Convicted Pedophile Larry Nassar Escaped Justice For So Long
“He in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being,” one victim says of the disgraced doctor.
For decades, Larry Nassar got away with the unchecked sexual assault of hundreds of girls and women — even as they reported the abuse to everyone from coaches and doctors to police and USA Gymnastics officials.
In 2016, the tide began to turn when former gymnast Rachael Denhollander filed a criminal complaint against Nassar, claiming she was age 15 in 2000 when he sexually abused her while she was seeing him for lower back pain treatments. After her allegations became public, more and more of his victims came forward in the months that followed with their own disturbing accounts.
Nassar, 58, eventually pleaded guilty to both child sexual abuse material crimes as well as the sexual assault of hundreds of gymnasts and other victims. In 2018, he received sentences of 60 years for the former and between 40 to 175 years for the latter.
At his sentencing hearing, multiple women told the court how the former USA Gymnastics chief medical coordinator was able to get away with abusing so many for so long.
USA Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney said she was around 13 or 14 when Nassar began preying on her under the guise of providing medical “treatment.”
“As it turns out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor, he in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being,” Maroney, now 26, wrote in her impact statement, obtained by CNN.
She claimed institutional complicity on the part of Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and the United States Olympic Committee perpetuated the problem, writing that “the predator was not identified by any organization during the time in question.”
According to Maroney, Michigan State University coaches and trainers “received complaints about Nassar going back to the late-1990s” but “these complaints were ignored.”
In 2014, a “botched” Michigan State investigation concerning complaints against Nassar concluded his actions were “legitimate medical treatments,” Maroney noted, adding the doctor was allowed to return to work — and molesting girls — at the school. The investigation, she said, was never reported to USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee.
In turn, when athletes complained to USA Gymnastics about Nassar the following year, he “was allowed to retire as the Olympic Team doctor and Michigan State University was never informed of the complaints against him,” Maroney wrote in her statement.
The retired gymnast concluded: “A simple fact is this. If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar’s behavior I never would have met him, I never would have been ‘treated’ by him, and I never would have been abused by him.”
Nassar was able to develop and use his expertise in pelvic pain and pelvic-floor physical therapy as a cover story for assaulting his victims, allowing him to evade accountability at the hands of law enforcement, parents and others who might have had the chance to stop him, The Cut reported.
In a 2004 incident, the outlet detailed, a 17-year-old high school athlete named Brianne Randall reported to Meridian Township police in Michigan that during an examination, Nassar had massaged her vagina and rubbed her breasts as part of what he claimed was a legitimate treatment for her scoliosis. After the session, she was admitted to a local hospital for a rape kit examination.
Police questioned Nassar in connection to the teenager’s allegations, and he confirmed to detectives that he touched Randall’s perineum but explained it was all part of a treatment method “published in medical journals and training tapes,” according to The Cut.
The doctor provided detectives with a 26-page PowerPoint presentation explaining the treatment, and authorities closed the case after deciding no crime had been committed.
The Cut pointed out: “Opinions vary on whether [Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy] is an appropriate treatment for young women, but unambiguously damning was the fact that Nassar hardly ever explained what he was doing, never gained consent, never used gloves, and found it necessary for ankle and knee injuries.”
While the assaults continued behind the scenes, Nassar curated his public reputation as a trusted pillar of the community he lived in.
After news of what Nassar had done came out, many residents in Holt, Michigan, were blindsided by allegations against the doctor.
“Most people don’t understand the grooming process that predators go through and Larry was a master groomer,” Rhonda Fenby-Morse, a member of a Holt Facebook group Nassar administered, told the Lansing State Journal in 2018, adding, “He groomed the entire community.”