Some of Larry Nassar’s many alleged victims say justice still feels “very incomplete” after the shamed Olympic doctor was handed a 60-year prison sentence on child porn charges.
“For 16 months I and other victims of Larry have been pleading for answers as to how he could have been left in positions of authority when (Michigan State University) officials had been warned of his conduct as early as 1997, and when (United States Gymnastics) was aware of his flagrant violations of safety policies,” said former Michigan state gymnast Rachael Denhollander.
Denhollander — joined Thursday at a press conference at a Michigan hotel with other abuse survivors — was the first gymnast to come forward with allegations against Nassar, claiming he assaulted her during his time as a doctor at Michigan State University when she was 15.
He’s since been accused by more than 140 others of sexual abuse.
“There has been no recognition of what they did that allowed this to happen,” Denhollanders said of the university’s response.
The press conference also featured USA National Team gymnast Jeanette Antolin, Kaylee Lorincz, Sterling Riethman, and Tiffany Thomas Lopez — a former MSU softball player who accused the former doctor of abuse in 1991.
The women called on United States Gymnastics and Michigan State University to take responsibility for mishandling the abuse scandal and acknowledge those who have come forward against Nassar.
“A simple fact is this: if Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar’s behavior, I would have never met him, I never would have been ‘treated’ by him and I never would have been abused by him,” Maroney wrote in an impact statement to the court.
Michigan State — which did not comment Thursday — issued a statement last month, after Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton and Ingham counties, saying the university “continues to be shocked and appalled by Larry Nassar’s now-admitted criminal conduct. Any suggestion that the university covered up this conduct is simply false.”
Thomas told reporters she continues to doubt herself in everyday life after she says her allegations against Nassar were brushed aside by school officials.
“I was told on several occasions that I was crazy, that I was making this up,” she said, begging university staff to acknowledge that she approached them with accusations. “It would relieve me so much. It would help me just to feel at ease if you would just admit what you know.”
The former Olympic athletes present also critiqued United States Gymnastics for allowing Nassar’s behavior to continue under rules that isolate young athletes from their parents.
John Manly, an attorney for some of the scores of victims, said United States Gymnastics intended to file a motion to dismiss the civil cases filed against them by the ex-doctor’s accusers.
“Shame on USA Gymnastics for doing that,” he said. “It seems to be indicative of their view on these women and girls.”
The organization could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Olympian Aly Raisman, who has also come forward with accusations against Nassar, called for a change to the cycles that “embolden sexual abusers.”
“We must look at the organizations that protected Nassar for years: USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee,” she wrote in an essay for the Players Tribune. “Until we understand the flaws in their systems, we can’t be sure something like this won’t happen again.”
Antolin though, promised that she and the woman seated around her would not be deterred in making those changes.
“It’s once again our mission to get that done,” she said. “They can run and hide if they want, but the truth will come out, just like it did with Larry.”