When you get your death warrant signed

Bruno Beidacki.

Bruno Beidacki

After a long trial, where more than 100 young women testified, former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was convicted and sentenced to spend a minimum of 40 years in prison. Nassar sexually abused at least 150 girls over the course of the last 30 years.

In other words, he is a monster.

The question being asked by people all over the country, however, is “How?” How could a man abuse so many people for so long? And it’s not like these girls didn’t come forward with their stories. For years, gymnasts abused by Nassar came to coaches, parents and administrators with their concerns. Still, it took the accusation of Olympian Aly Raisman and the surge of the #MeToo movement for something to be done.

We live in a society where doubt and attempts at undermining allegations are prioritized over empathizing with the victims. The false accusations of an insignificant statistical minority are used to justify people’s hesitation. Well, they shouldn’t.

I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years and so was my 18-year-old sister. We had tough coaches, some who made us love the sport and some who made us hate it. What if Nassar had been my doctor? Or worse, what if he had been my sister’s doctor?

What this case needs to teach us is to create an environment in which children feel comfortable confiding and confident that others will intervene to help. If we keep telling them that they have to “suck it up” and “they just want to help you improve” when mild situations of abuse happen, they might not share their stories when severe cases occur.

Sports should be healthy activities that help kids develop values such as teamwork, resilience, work ethic and respect. They are supposed to help your body and mind. Instead, what people like Nassar do to children and teenagers is scar them in a way that might negatively affect the entirety of their lives.

More than that, they completely destroy children’s perspectives on mentorship. Trust issues are found in extremely higher rates between victims of sexual abuse. Some can never convince themselves to trust others again. What this creates is not only a social and identity crisis, but it leads to cases of depression and anxiety.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Larry Nassar was sentenced up to 175 years in prison. He will spend the rest of his life locked up. Worse punishment than that, though, was him having to hear the testimonies of dozens of his victims. If there is any good in him, listening to those young women describe his abuse probably killed him inside.

So, former doctor Larry Nassar, listen up: When you got your death warrant signed, the rest of the world applauded.

Bruno Beidacki is the opinion editor. Contact him at [email protected].