"Little girls don't stay little forever."
January 16, 2018 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Hundreds of survivors have come forward to testify against Larry Nassar, whom they say was allowed to abuse them for years through his position with USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and at John Geddert's Michigan club, Twistars. The hearings, which began today, will allow survivors to speak publicly, often for the first time [trigger warning for child abuse, sexual assault and suicide]. Yesterday, Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast in history, publicly identified herself as the third member of the 2016 gold-medal winning team from the Rio Olympics to be a survivor of Nassar's abuse, as did her two-time Olympic teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. 2012 Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney also spoke out publicly. Today, the other survivors who aren't as well known will get to tell their stories alongside Biles, Raisman, Douglas, and Maroney, who had more media coverage.

Rachel Denhollander was the first one to publicly identify herself as a survivor of Nassar's abuse. Alongside Olympic bronze-medal winning Sydney athlete Jamie Dantzscher, they spoke to the Indy Star and got the public investigation rolling.

Maroney was the first recent Olympic athlete to speak out again Nassar, and the settlement her family reached with USA Gymnastic in December of 2016. She spoke openly in opposition to a non-disclosure agreement signed as part of her settlement. American model Chrissy Teigan offered to pay the $100,000 fine if Maroney decides to speak at Nassar's sentencing.

Maroney's family took the settlement “after suffering for years from psychological trauma of her sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar, and in need of funds to pay for psychological treatment for her worsening psychological condition.”. USA Gymnastics claims that it was Maroney's attorney who insisted on the confidentiality agreement, though Maroney's current attorney believes such an agreement was illegal in California. USA Gymnastics disagrees with that assessment.

Last week, world champion and the "best collegiate gymnast in the country," Maggie Nichols came forward as "Athlete A" - the first athlete to report Nassar to USA Gymnastics. During the summer of 2015, Nichols' coach, Sarah Jantzi, overheard Nichols talking to Aly Raisman about how uncomfortable Nassar's "treatment" had made her. Jantzi then asked for more details from Nichols and took that report to USA Gymnastics.

USA Gymnastics did not notify Nassar's employer, Michigan State University, about the allegations. Likewise, MSU did not notify USAG about their own investigation, which began in 2014 and led to Nassar being required to wear gloves and not be alone with any patients, though neither condition was followed. Despite spending 70% of his paid time for MSU doing "outreach" and on loan to USAG (he was never a formal employee of USAG), Nassar saw patients at MSU until the fall of 2016. Nassar was allowed to retire from USAG quietly, on his own terms, in 2015.

After Nichols' accusations, an investigator was hired by USAG: Fran Sepler. She interviewed Nichols and Raisman in the weeks leading up to the World Championships in 2015, where the US team had an uncharacteristicly shaky performance. However in a statement following Nichols coming forward, USA Gymnastics asserts that:

"the information that Maggie and later a second athlete provided was important, but did not provide reasonable suspicion that sexual abuse had occurred. Following a third athlete interview on Friday, July 24, 2015, the investigator recommended that USA Gymnastics report to law enforcement, and USA Gymnastics contacted the FBI on the next business day, Monday, July 27. When USA Gymnastics representatives met with the FBI on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, they disclosed the information received during all three interviews, including Maggie’s. The FBI then took over the matter, and it decided who to speak with and when. USA Gymnastics cooperated fully with the FBI, including the agents’ July 28, 2015, request to not do anything that might interfere with their investigation. USA Gymnastics interpreted that request to mean that it should not discuss the matter, and it refrained from doing so."

There was also the small matter of the 2016 Olympic team selection process, which kept the athletes and parents from going to law enforcement on their own. They also trusted that USA Gymnastics was doing their best to keep their daughters safe.

**

Also at issue is the Karolyi ranch, where the national team has been holding monthly camps since 2001, and where Nassar was allowed to abuse gymnasts for decades. USA Gymnastics previously intended to purchase the ranch, but backed out for "various reasons" last year. Simone Biles, in her statement, brought up the difficulty of being back in training and having to revisit the site where the abuse happened. USA Gymnastics has announced that they intend to find a new training site in "early 2018," but the next national team camp is scheduled for next week.

While it's unclear how much the Karolyis knew about what was happening, the accusations of abuse against them and John Geddert are long-standing. Geddert allegedly walked in on a gymnast being abused, and backed out after making an awkward comment. He also hired Kathy Klages, the women's gymnastics coach at MSU who stood by Nassar even after the allegations were mounting and hundreds of thousands of images of child pornography was found in his home. Klages even passed a card around for the MSU gymnasts to sign in "support" of Nassar. Many of those same gymnasts had made allegations against him, and had brought them to Klages, only to be told that they needed to not "make trouble" for themselves.

**

The Lansing State Journal is live-tweeting the sentencing. ESPN has streamed the hearing and is also airing an Outside the Lines special about Nassar's sentencing. On that program, Aly Raisman shared her anger at the way USA Gymnastics has handled the investigation.

Nassar was sentenced to 60 years for the federal child pornography charges. He is likely to get double that when he is sentenced for the state sexual abuse charges.

One survivor at the hearing faced Nassar, who kept his head in his hands for most of Tuesday's hearing, and said "Little girls don't stay little forever. They turn into strong women who return to destroy your world."

Those strong women will continue speaking tomorrow as the sentencing hearing continues.
posted by guster4lovers (160 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
 
hundreds. hundreds. i literally can't read past this word.

hundreds.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:41 PM on January 16, 2018 [30 favorites]


The survivors (or family members of survivors) who spoke today, as they wish to be identified: Kyle Stephens, Jessica Thomashow, Anonymous, Chelsey Markham, Jade Capua, Alexis Moore, Olivia Cowan, Rebecca Mark, Bethany Bauman, Kate Mahon, Danielle Moore, Marion Siebert, Annette Hill, Taylor Stevens, Anonymous, Amanda Cormier, Jennifer Rood Bedford, Nicole Soos, Ashley Erickson, Melissa Imrie, Anonymous, Lindsey Lemke, Megan Halicek, Anonymous, Katelyn Skrabis, Brianne Randall, Anonymous, Anne Ludes, and Lindsey Schuett.

They did something incredibly brave and deserve to be recognised.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:43 PM on January 16, 2018 [74 favorites]


There is so much to be outraged about in this story. But right now, I'm going to focus on the fact that apparently it is legal for McKayla Maroney to be fined $100,000 for testifying honestly at the trial of the man who sexually assaulted her. We need to end NDAs in sexual harassment and assault cases. They need not to exist anymore.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:46 PM on January 16, 2018 [161 favorites]


And I would happily contribute to the Chrissy Teigan Fund for any survivor anywhere who owes money for violating a NDA that should never have been allowed in the first place.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:48 PM on January 16, 2018 [32 favorites]


So one thing I am unclear on regarding Mckayla Maroney's NDA and payments as it affects Chrissy Teigen's offer to cover the fine: its not clear how the settlement was structured, but it seems conceivable that she would get the 1.2M as 100k/year for a decade, in which case she would have a lot more to lose than just the 100k fine as it seems unlikely (however wrong) that she would see another penny of the settlement after knowingly going back on the NDA.

Im not in any position to judge her choices, but it is somewhat comforting that her choice is between telling her story or keeping the money, and that justice will be served (however belatedly and inadequately) regardless of the decision she makes.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:53 PM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think the full details of the settlement haven't been released, but I did find this:
"In 2016, Maroney received a $1.25 million settlement from USA Gymnastics after the organization learned of Nassar’s actions. That settlement included an NDA with a $100,000 penalty if she ever spoke about the abuse she’d allegedly suffered at the doctor’s hands." (source)

So she actually could be held in violation of the NDA for what she's already said.

Holding her to that would be vile. But I wouldn't put it past USAG right now.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:55 PM on January 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


Given this story, and the alleged physical/psychological abuse dished out by the Karolyis, who would anyone go into competitive gymnastics?
posted by orrnyereg at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Little girls don't stay little forever. They turn into strong women who return to destroy your world."

I might get this tattooed.
#metoo
posted by Sophie1 at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2018 [49 favorites]


Can someone clarify for me as a non-American - can an NDA stop someone testifying at a criminal trial? Will withhold outrage til the answer.
posted by kersplunk at 3:12 PM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


With regards to Maroney's NDA, I don't know if what she has already said publicly is in violation of her NDA, but in the US a NDA can't be used to prevent her testimony as a witness. While "contracts of silence" are legal, testifying in court is one of the areas that courts routinely have declined to enforce a contract of silence. It is a well established US precedent that is is against public policy to enforce a contract of silence if it obstructs the administration of justice. Typical examples that are routinely ruled unenforceable are contracts to conceal a crime or contracts to suppress the testimony of a witness. I've been in court and seen the absolute distain a judge treated an attempt to enforce an NDA against someone based on their testimony in court. So while the USAG may be able enforce their NDA against her for her public statements (although I think they'd be extremely foolish to do so), they can't use the NDA to prevent her testimony in court.
posted by RichardP at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2018 [21 favorites]


Given this story, and the alleged physical/psychological abuse dished out by the Karolyis, who would anyone go into competitive gymnastics?

Because they love it. Because, as Simone Biles said "I won't let one man, and the others that enabled him to steal my love and joy."

This is the same as asking "Given Weinstein, why would anyone become an actress?" or "Given , why would anyone want to work in Washington?"
posted by mcduff at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2018 [55 favorites]


(some outrage - there is plenty in this case beyond appalling).
posted by kersplunk at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2018


This isn't a gymnastics problem. It's not even a sports problem. It's a societal problem, and a human problem.

This one situation mostly involves gymnasts, but some of the MSU survivors are athletes from track, softball, etc. USAG has a lot of factors that made it easy for Nassar to infiltrate and abuse these women, and get away with it for years, much like the Catholic Church did.

You don't stop these abusers by ending competitive gymnastics. You stop the abusers by making the sport safer for all athletes and by making sure that there is consent in all physical contact between coaches and athletes. The athletes (hell, ALL KIDS) also need education about what is okay and what isn't, and they need to feel safe enough to speak up when it's not.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:14 PM on January 16, 2018 [34 favorites]


This makes me literally sick to my stomach. I'm so angry.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:23 PM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


And with all this coming out, the Michigan State trustees renewed the contract of the school head that let this all happen.

I didn't know that there was a way to be worse than Penn Fucking State on molestation, but Sparty found it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:23 PM on January 16, 2018 [38 favorites]


Pulling up mefi on my phone on the way home from work, planning to read the Aziz Ansari sexual assault fpp, get waylaid by yet another sexual assault fpp that has been posted since I started wrapping up my day.

These stories are so wearying but I'm thankful forever to the women who keep coming forward.
posted by phunniemee at 3:24 PM on January 16, 2018 [22 favorites]


This is an article about McKayla's original post, as it seems like her twitter and instagram are now deleted.

Here's the letter she shared with the federal judge for Nassar's sentencing. Here's the letter her mother wrote. It's one of the most heartbreaking things I've read about this case, which is saying a lot.

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like those are in violation of the "don't talk about the abuse" NDA. I wonder if that's why her social media accounts have been deleted too.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:25 PM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't think asking for kids consent or even teaching kids they are supposed to say "no" will fix it. Then if it happens and a kid inevitably shuts down because they're scared and confused and don't say no like they were supposed to, how are they supposed to then tell everyone about it? I mean this is what we already have, kids and women feeling like it's there own fault if they can't say no loud enough. I'm not saying these are bad things to teach, but I don't think children actually are on even footing to say no or to say how they really feel to adults who simply have way more power and authority than they do.

Even as an adult telling a yoga teacher not to touch to my body feels really awkward even though I know I can and should because it's not just about training people to say no, it's about teaching the community to respect no. It's about creating a community where when kids say no to something it actually means something and people don't look wounded because a kid, or person said no to a hug or to being touched or to many other things.

I personally think it should be examined whether sending children away from their parents like this or to be alone with intensive mentorship on a regular basis innately puts kids at risk. I like the model the scouts adopted which is always having two adults present with the kids.
posted by xarnop at 3:40 PM on January 16, 2018 [23 favorites]


Male rapists with sports prospects a la Brock Turner: We can’t risk their careers!
Young women with massively successful sports careers abused at the hands of men like Nassar: Meh.
posted by greermahoney at 3:46 PM on January 16, 2018 [73 favorites]


Excellent detailed round-up of an overwhelming and horrific series of crimes. This is a hundred times Sandusky. The failures at all levels of administration at MSU, at USAG, are staggering in scope. I hope to see charges come down at the administrators who enabled this predator.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:49 PM on January 16, 2018 [15 favorites]


Nassar, now 54, pleaded guilty in November to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with victims as young as 6 years old.

So we're looking at, what, about a 1% conviction rate, just for this one guy? Less? - at least one of the victims says she was assaulted hundreds of times.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:07 PM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I am beginning to suspect that purging with fire is the only way.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:19 PM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Cheers to Chrissy Tiegen who, today, offered to pay McKayla Maroney's $100,000 fine for breaking the non-disclosure agreement by discussing her abuse publicly.
posted by honeybee413 at 4:27 PM on January 16, 2018 [13 favorites]


A lot of the gymternet is calling for the FIG and USOC to decertify USAG entirely and have the athletes unionise and make their own federation. Lynn Raisman and Kathy Johnson would be great leaders of a new organisation. Steve Penney may be gone, but the board that gave him a six figure settlement is still there.

Hershey’s dropped USAG as a sponsor, leaving NBC and a few small sponsors hanging on. They are in big trouble financially between that and the lawsuits.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:28 PM on January 16, 2018 [18 favorites]


I am beginning to suspect that purging with fire is the only way.

oglaf_labyrinth_last_panel.jpg
posted by poffin boffin at 4:29 PM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is a great post, thanks. We are very close to this case because my son was a gymnast at Twistars until last spring. I have wanted to do a post like this but couldn't quite pull it together, and I'm glad someone did.

Rachel Denhollander is a hero. She was amazing on the stand during early hearings, being attacked in the usual ways by Nassar's lawyers.

I have loved, too, Aly Raisman's commentary, standing up for other gymnasts. She said in one statement that it doesn't matter whether it happens to a gymnast you've heard of or a club gymnast in some little town in Ohio, and I appreciated that because there's so much emphasis in some reports on the abuse of "name" gymnasts--and I am grieved and angered that these young women's amazing sports careers are so intertwined with their experience of abuse--but most of the victims are not superstars.

I hate that one of the things the victims have said over and over is that one of the reasons they thought it must be OK, what Nassar was doing to them, was that they knew he was doing it to everybody.

One thing about John Geddert, the owner of Twistars and a big Nassar supporter, is that, even if you didn't know he was enabling sex abuse, it was impossible not to know he was a horrible person. One of the reasons we left his gym was that he attacked me and became abusive toward me and my partner, and threatened my son, when I asked perfectly reasonable questions about what the gym's policies were about contact between coaches and gymnasts, and about some practices of the Booster Club that I thought were in violation of the law, like allowing families to fundraise for individual gymnasts. (They were in violation of the law, and the Booster Club lost its non-profit status until it cleaned up its act.) He had assaulted one of his coaches in the past.

During the large meet that Twistars hosts every year, all the parents have to work "volunteer" hours. Last year, my partner and I were working in the coaches' and judges' food area, providing breakfast, lunch, and snacks. At some point, Geddert came through, and a minute after he left, one of the parents who was working out on the floor popped his head in to apologize us for not warning us he was on his way. This is the kind of opinion people have of him.

Once, in the bleachers at a meet, I was talking about our bad experiences with Geddert, and another parent said, "I don't think he even knows my name," and several parents piped up, "Best to keep it that way."

In a perfect world, we would not allow men who are known to be terrible people to remain in positions of influence. But the parents on the boys' team put up with it because, in general, we didn't have personal dealings with Geddert, and the boys' team coach at the time was excellent (he left two years ago to coach at the University of Iowa), and because choosing another gym would mean long drives added to the already-heavy time commitment of having a competitive gymnast in the family. I think the girls' parents put up with it because it was the closest gym and because of Geddert's reputation. It's sort of painful and distressing to me that so many families are still taking their kids to Twistars, but I've been surprised by how many people I talk to who aren't aware that we are Ground Zero for the most extensive sex abuse case in sports history.

In any case, we are now carpooling with another former Twistars family to a gym a bit farther away, and could not be happier. I am grateful that my gymnast is a boy, and that he never saw Nassar, even though "Larry Nassar is in the gym every Tuesday! You just need to put his name on a list!" was presented to us as a big selling point of the gym.

It's been hard on my son. We told him the outlines of what happened, but a few months ago he asked to watch Kamerin Moore's youtube video about her experience with Nassar at Twistars, and he was very sober afterward, though he is not a verbal processor and we haven't talked about it much. Kamerin Moore's experience hit close to home for my son--her younger brother Jake, now a gymnast at the University of Michigan, spent some time coaching him, and my son also admired him during his teen years when he was on the Junior US National Team. He adores Jake and the idea that Jake's sister had been hurt at Twistars was hard for him.

Kamerin Moore is not a part of any of the lawsuits. She is one of the who-knows-how-many girls and young women who were abused in addition to the 140 who are part of the lawsuits.
posted by Orlop at 4:33 PM on January 16, 2018 [80 favorites]


I can't believe LouAnna Simon (president of MSU) hasn't resigned yet. It's so astonishingly bad.
posted by Tesseractive at 4:34 PM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


"In 2016, Maroney received a $1.25 million settlement from USA Gymnastics after the organization learned of Nassar’s actions. That settlement included an NDA with a $100,000 penalty if she ever spoke about the abuse she’d allegedly suffered at the doctor’s hands." (source)

So she actually could be held in violation of the NDA for what she's already said.


Even though secret settlements in sex abuse cases are illegal in California, where they came to this agreement.
posted by Orlop at 4:35 PM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Finally getting around to reading the links--that first ESPN article is great. I've been frustrated by how often Geddert's role in this has been elided in coverage. He is often unnamed, and Twistars called something like "a prominent local gym" in coverage. This in-depth review of his and Nassar's history is terrific.
posted by Orlop at 4:38 PM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I can't believe LouAnna Simon (president of MSU) hasn't resigned yet. It's so astonishingly bad.

Why would she? The trustees renewed her contract and gave her a pay raise - all while this was coming out, including how her administration covered for Nassar.

Again, worse than Penn Fucking State.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:43 PM on January 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


I really, really, really want all NDAs related to criminal or other illegal behavior to be automatically void. NDAs should block corporate trade secrets and who worked in what department and investment plans and inter-office fuckups (non-criminal, dammit) that would damage a company's rep and income if they were known. They shouldn't be ways to avoid prosecution or civil lawsuits.

An NDA should cover, "You can't tell the press we spent $50,000 on artisanal tea machines for every cubicle because we thought raising people's mindfulness would increase productivity." It should not cover, "You can't tell the press that we don't keep our buildings up to code and we quietly pay off 2-3 workers every few months who get injured on the back stairs."

(And it really really shouldn't cover "oh, our doctor rapes his patients.")
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:43 PM on January 16, 2018 [53 favorites]


I'm just stunned at how wide this was. That all those years we watched those young women at the Olympics, looking so serious, this was going on. It's just awful.
posted by Dashy at 4:56 PM on January 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


I don't think asking for kids consent or even teaching kids they are supposed to say "no" will fix it.

The Gymcastic podcast has been on this story since before it broke, essentially, and they've done some good interviews with people who work in sex abuse prevention. One of the things I learned from listening to those is that a great spot for prevention is to set boundaries that prevent grooming behavior. For instance, your coach shouldn't give you presents that the whole team doesn't get--so Nassar's special items from international competitions, for instance, would not be OK. And your coach shouldn't text you privately--you shouldn't get any texts from your coach that aren't group texts to the whole team. And you shouldn't be invited to your coach's house unless the entire team is invited, for, say, an end-of-season barbecue. And your coach shouldn't ask you to keep secrets.

Preschools and elementary schools have had these kinds of policies in place for ages. My son went to a preschool where they had a rule that no adult could be alone with any kid. If they were out on the playground, and a kid needed to go in to use the bathroom, he would ask another kid to be his "bathroom buddy," and they would go in together with one of the adults. This was just a thing they routinely did, and when my son and I were talking about the sex abuse at Twistars, and I told him that the "bathroom buddy" rule was in part to prevent sex abuse or allegations of sex abuse, he was surprised. It was just treated so matter-of-factly.

These kinds of policies aren't perfect preventives, of course, but they can serve to stop behavior at a stage that is far short of abuse, when an abuser is testing and grooming kids, and they help create a culture where grooming behavior, and the kind of abuse Nassar inflicted, are that much harder to get away with.

Of course, as I said above about Geddert, if it were somehow possible to stop ourselves, as a community and culture, from putting up with behavior that is merely asshole-ish, we would also create an environment in which abuse would be much more difficult to get away with. In Nassar's case, the bad treatment gymnasts got from Geddert and the Karolyis created an opportunity for Nassar to be the nice guy and earn gymnasts' affection and trust.

But that's a pipe dream. People put up with assholes because they think they have no choice, and in the gymnastics world, if a girl wanted to reach the national team, qualify for college scholarships, or compete at the elite level, she and her family had few choices indeed. The Karolyis were the gatekeepers.

Valery Luikin is the women's team coordinator now, and things seem to be at least somewhat improved with him. But as long as there's a centralized national team structure, starting when kids are 11 or 12, and that creates a bottleneck where certain individuals have a great deal of power, and that can be exploited.

USA Gymnastics recently made some changes based on the report they commissioned last year. But they are still allowing the athlete representatives to serve on team selection committees. This means that the people who are supposed to be available to gymnasts who have problems or need advocacy can still be involved in deciding whether that gymnasts gets a team position or an international assignment. It's a conflict of interest that should not be allowed, and it's discouraging that, despite the recommendations of the report, USA Gymnastics allowed it to stand.
posted by Orlop at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2018 [21 favorites]


I'm sorry, but at this point, the answer isn't for USA Gymnastics to make changes. It's for USA Gymnastics to be stripped of their authority as the official US oversight body for gymnastics. And yes, I get that would be a death sentence for the organization - given what they enabled, it's well deserved.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:40 PM on January 16, 2018 [42 favorites]




USAG just said that they won’t enforce the NDA for Maroney:

Law-talking Mefites: is it already any kind of established thing that you cannot use an NDA to cover up a crime you have committed? Like how a contract is not valid just because it is on paper - for example, if it is signed under duress.
posted by thelonius at 5:44 PM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


And with all this coming out, the Michigan State trustees renewed the contract of the school head that let this all happen.

I didn't know that there was a way to be worse than Penn Fucking State on molestation, but Sparty found it.


It is shocking that MSU has managed to avoid the full Penn State treatment. I suspect that MSU is ducking so far because Nassar wasn't associated with the big money sports and that is literally it.

Back in December, Dvora Meyers wrote Michigan State Can't Bury Its Role In The Largest Sex Abuse Scandal In Sports History, which provides evidence that people had reported his abuse to the school prior to the current wave of media coverage, including:
MSU botched other victims’ attempts to alert them to Nassar’s abuse. Tiffany Thomas Lopez, a former MSU softball player, repeatedly tried to tell athletic trainers at MSU in 1999-2000 that Nassar had sexually assaulted her when she sought treatment for back pain. “I was told on multiple occasions that I was crazy, that I was making this up,” Lopez said at a press conference following Nassar’s sentencing on federal child pornography charges. She noted that two of the people she told about Nassar’s abuse are still on staff at MSU. “I’m still in the search for my alma mater to take responsibility.”
More on MSU's complicity and just overall poor handling of the situation once it became too big to ignore from Deadspin:

-Police Documents Detail Another Time Michigan State Failed To Stop Larry Nassar

-Six Months Later, Michigan State Notifies Female Athletes About Its Sexual Assault Scandal (March 2017)
posted by palindromic at 5:45 PM on January 16, 2018 [13 favorites]


Orlop, thank you for sharing what you did. Geddert was the head coach in 2012 in London. That wasn’t that long ago. It makes me wonder what Jordyn Wieber went through. And then I remember that the gymnasts on the national team who weren’t abused are very likely the exceptions. That is devastating.

The athlete rep serving on the selection committee was one of those HOLY SHIT REALLY?!? moments for me too. And I won’t even go into the Terin Humphreys thing.

Anyone interested should definitely listen to Gymcastic and read thegymter.net and balancebeamsituation.com for more on any of this. They have covered this story so well, even when the mainstream media was ignoring it. And they have an interview with Larry Nassar from YEARS ago that is terrifyingly difficult to listen to in retrospect.
posted by guster4lovers at 5:47 PM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


It is shocking that MSU has managed to avoid the full Penn State treatment. I suspect that MSU is ducking so far because Nassar wasn't associated with the big money sports victimized women and girls and that is literally it.

Fixed that for you. (See also: the treatment of Baylor versus the treatment of Penn Fucking State.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:50 PM on January 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


>It's for USA Gymnastics to be stripped of their authority as the official US oversight body for gymnastics.

Who do we write to make this happen? This is so deep into the nuke-it-from-orbit category that I don't even know what to say.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:53 PM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I mean, all the prevention stuff about making sure adults aren't alone with the kids and so on, that's all great. But this didn't happen just because one guy was dangerous. It happened because a whole organization covered for him so it wouldn't have to look bad or lose money. If you want to prevent THAT, you make sure that organizations that cover up this kind of shit get absolutely burned to the ground, figuratively speaking of course. Salt. The. Fucking. Earth.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:58 PM on January 16, 2018 [27 favorites]


Anyone interested should definitely listen to Gymcastic and read thegymter.net and balancebeamsituation.com for more on any of this. They have covered this story so well, even when the mainstream media was ignoring it. And they have an interview with Larry Nassar from YEARS ago that is terrifyingly difficult to listen to in retrospect.

They did a podcast in which Jessica said, "One of these days it's going to be someone we interviewed," and I swear it was just a few days before the Nassar news broke.
posted by Orlop at 6:01 PM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


The US Olympic Organising Committee has threatened to do this before: to track in 2008.

They can and should do it with USAG. I would go the route of telling politicians and writing letters to the USOC.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:01 PM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


It’s also heartbreaking to go back and watch Aly at worlds in 2015, where she failed to make the all around final. Knowing she was just starting to deal with the abuse - not only her own, but many of her teammates and best friends...

And it makes the abuse from social media that Gabby Douglas got during London and Rio even more reprehensible too.

And for Maggie to come forward and then not make the Olympic team, even as an alternate. They did offer her a non-travelling alternate position that feels like a slap in the face and a bid to keep her silent all at once.

And for McKayla who struggled through the abuse at the hands of her regular coaches and then suffer under Nassar, only to fall on her vault, and not get the only “guaranteed” gold medal the US thought it had going into London.

And Maddie Larson, who came from the same gym (and suffered much of the same abuse from Nassar and her coaches) as McKayla, and was basically blacklisted from elite competition because she had a bad floor routine for the team at worlds. In Aly’s book, she describes how no one on the national team staff would even talk to Maddie and how she never competed again.

And Jamie Dantzscher, who dealt with Bela Karolyi and ridiculous coach drama that NBC exploited in story after story and then failed to medal and therefore was deemed a failure. They were awarded the team bronze after it was discovered that a Chinese athlete was underage, but they were treated as abject failures after the Magnificent Seven won gold in 1996. There’s a Washington post article from the time that I refuse to google that calls them deranged pixies and complains that their failure is all their fault for not working hard enough and not letting Bela “fix it all” in time.

Every time someone new comes out as a survivor it just shatters me. It’s not surprising anymore. But godamn.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:19 PM on January 16, 2018 [18 favorites]


Law-talking Mefites: is it already any kind of established thing that you cannot use an NDA to cover up a crime you have committed?

An NDA cannot be used to prevent reporting a crime or filing a lawsuit. You can't contract with someone to hide your illegal activities - that would be contracting for Obstruction of Justice, and contracts for illegal actions are void.

However, you *can* have an NDA that has vague, general "no disparaging public comments" rules. While this has been ruled a violation of labor rights when the activities you want to complain about are basically illegal working conditions, corporations have a solid interest in not letting their employees know that the NDA means "You can't tell the public your manager was a loudmouth asshole who drinks too much at work" but not "you can't tell the public that your manager gropes everyone in a skirt under the age of 45."
under the National Labor Relations Act, employers are not allowed to prevent workers from talking about sexual harassment or even gender-inequity complaints at work or when they relate to work. The same is true for non-disparagement provisions in employment contracts: It’s an unfair labor practice to have employees agree not to “publicly criticize, ridicule, disparage or defame” a company or its “directors, officers, shareholders, or employees.” So while these provisions still persist in boilerplate form in most employment contracts, they can violate federal labor law if put to use.
NDAs for non-job purposes are less-well protected. It's likely very grey about whether it's a breach of contract to go public with someone's crimes, aside from reporting them to the authorities. The companies probably have an easier time enforcing the NDAs if no formal charges have been filed.

(IANAL, TINLA)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 6:25 PM on January 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


The real takeaway here: if we're lucky, this is the worst case. It's definitely not the only one, and there are doubtless dozens to hundreds of doctors, coaches, and managers of young girls in sports who've gotten away with similar or worse activities for a very long time.

One of the hopeful aspects of the #MeToo campaign and the charges being aimed at celebrities, is that teenage girls are hearing accounts of "here is how I was sexually assaulted," and will be able to say, "Hey! That happened to me! Does that mean...?"

It's wonderful that the court is allowing all these victims' statements to go on the record - we need these stories in the public eye.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 6:31 PM on January 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


Surely there are talented women coaches who could have filled this role? I mean at this point it seems supremely negligent to hire a man to coach any woman's sport at all, given how hideous men are in general (I say this as a dude). (This is not meant to cast aspersions on anyone other than those directly responsible.)

I want it to be illegal for any public institution--and I define that very broadly to include any entity whose employees are placed in a position of trust with members of the general public--to be able to generate NDAs at all, and for all NDAs signed by members of the general public with such groups to be stricken as invalid.

NDAs and non-competes need to die everywhere, for every conceivable circumstance. They are a net drain on society and progress. Without NDAs Trump would not be president.
posted by maxwelton at 7:02 PM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


He was a doctor who worked with athletes, not a coach. And sadly, he seems to have been protected by at least one woman coach.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:21 PM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


Having female coaches isn't protection against a predator like Nassar or an asshole like Geddert. Simone Biles was coached by a woman, as was Laurie Hernandez and Gabby Douglas (though her on-floor coach/spotter was male). The person who is responsible for the USAG investigation is a female coach. Not to mention that the national team coordinator for the last four Olympic quads was a woman - Martha Karolyi.

But Nassar still abused hundreds of gymnasts. Probably thousands.

There was even a female trainer who worked with Nassar at the ranch and claims she had no idea what he was doing because he insisted on working alone, and he was so respected that no one dared question him.

There is no simple answer here. And USAG has done all the wrong things over and over. They say they care about victims and are "angry" on behalf of the victims (though the only statement that uses that language is the one they made after Simone spoke out). But they still send gymnasts to the ranch. They fight against every lawsuit by saying they had no legal responsibility to report abuse. They have failed to make the fund for survivors available. Aly has said that no one even TALKED to her about it after she spoke out, let alone asked her how she was doing or offered help or support.

That's what was reinforced over and over in Aly's book (which everyone should read): if gymnasts needed something, they had to find it themselves. Aly talks about not eating any carbs because that's what she thought a good diet was. When she went to a nutritionist and he told her what an elite athlete should be eating, a lot of her physical symptoms and inability to recover disappeared. When she was injured and needed to fly back from camp early, her family had to pay for the flight change and all her transportation. It was always reinforced to them that they were replaceable. You have a bad workout, you can be off the team. There are always others ready and waiting to take your place.

And you're young and female. Who is going to believe you if you go up against the most respected doctor in the sport?
posted by guster4lovers at 8:23 PM on January 16, 2018 [20 favorites]


Apparently Michigan State's initial Title IX investigation consisted, in toto, of their investigator asking four of Nasser's pals at MSU if what he did was cool. Jesus.
posted by tavella at 9:53 PM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Sidetrack: NDAs and non-competes need to die everywhere, for every conceivable circumstance.

Non-competes, pretty much, yes. NDAs, not so much. If you're working to create Amazing Breakfast-Os with appley bits and cranberries and oaty-crunch flakes, because you think the new East Coast Farmer tv series is going to make a market for that, it's reasonable to have your employees sign an NDA that says "you can't quit working for me and go across the street, get a whopping hiring bonus, and tell them to bypass all the marketing research we had to do and start making that cereal tomorrow."

In sports, it's maybe reasonable to have NDAs that say, "you won't tell the competition what our special maneuvers are, so we can wow the judges, and you won't tell them our training exercise routine that makes those special maneuvers possible." NDAs aren't inherently evil. The problem is with NDAs of the "you won't say anything bad about us" rather than "you won't reveal our specific business practices and plans."

But oh, the fun part: Minors can't be held to contracts. Parents may be held to NDAs; children can't be.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:16 PM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


"...which began in 2014 and led to Nassar being required to wear gloves and not be alone with any patients, though neither condition was followed."

Because Jesus Christ we can't have you sexually assault children with bare hands!

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

This whole thing is so horrifying. And it's so frustrating to see all the systems that just upheld this abuse. And yes, NDAs should NOT cover illegal actions. It's astonishing.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:20 PM on January 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


It happened because a whole organization covered for him so it wouldn't have to look bad or lose money.
I can understand (but not excuse) keeping a physically and emotionally abusive asshole like Karolyi around as a coach because he has a track record for producing gold medals. I can't imagine what unique service this team doctor was providing that made him worth keeping around after half a dozen complaints or so.
posted by xyzzy at 10:33 PM on January 16, 2018


Penn State all over again. People look the other way, because they know what they'll find if they dig too deep. Well, if they're afraid to look, it simply means they already know what they'll see, which means they are enablers, and I don't think anything really improves until enablers start being held to the same accountability as the abusers.

Catholic Church
Penn State (every college sports program, really)
Hollywood (film, television, all media)
Fashion Industry
Olympics

And I'm sure I'm forgetting some.
posted by Beholder at 11:47 PM on January 16, 2018


Because Jesus Christ we can't have you sexually assault children with bare hands!

A really striking moment in Aly Raisman's memoir Fierce* comes when she goes to an actual doctor and he puts gloves on. Getting so much of her medical care from Nassar, she had no idea that was both normal and completely expected.

*I've been reading a lot on this issue and may be mis-remembering my source for this anecdote but I'm pretty sure about it.
posted by Orlop at 3:50 AM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


And I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

Boy Scouts of America
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:31 AM on January 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


We need a legal defense fund and PSA campaign to ensure people trapped in these NDA's can come forward and report the misconduct without fear of crippling financial penalties. "We'll defend you against the NDA and cover the penalties if you lose" sorta thing
posted by mikelieman at 5:42 AM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Orlop, you got the source exactly right. She actually asked him why he was putting on gloves for the procedure.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:46 AM on January 17, 2018


> Catholic Church
Penn State (every college sports program, really)
Hollywood (film, television, all media)
Fashion Industry
Olympics
And I'm sure I'm forgetting some.


Honestly, the worst sexual abuses are likely happening in the industries where there is no chance of "high-profile" victims or abusers to get a splashy level of attention. Factory workers. Hotel housekeeping. Agricultural workers.
posted by desuetude at 7:25 AM on January 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


Honestly, the worst sexual abuses are likely happening in the industries where there is no chance of "high-profile" victims or abusers to get a splashy level of attention. Factory workers. Hotel housekeeping. Agricultural workers...

Children in foster care. Disabled adults in group homes.

And let's not get into calling one thing "the worst" in a way that might seem to minimize the abuse others experience.
posted by Orlop at 7:54 AM on January 17, 2018 [15 favorites]


Sorry, that's a good point, Orlop, "worst" is not a useful or accurate adjective there.
posted by desuetude at 8:07 AM on January 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


The bare hands thing is really an incredible tell for just how bad the enabling was. You can't tell me that every single medical professional involved, including the ones on MSU's 'panel', didn't know immediately on hearing that he was repeatedly putting bare fingers into anyone's genitals that the guy was either a pervert or committing malpractice. Actually, strike the or, he was committing malpractice *and* was likely doing it for perverted reasons.
posted by tavella at 8:38 AM on January 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


When these things come up, and they do, again and again, and the reaction is "burn it to the ground" and it's about a sport or entity or organization that primarily serves women or minorities is that you'd think you could burn it to the ground and in its place would rise a wholesome version of the bad thing run by better people, hopefully women and minorities. But then I have this nagging, cynical feeling that the thing just disappears. I think we should start seeing any industry that is made of minorities or women but is led almost strictly by men as a 100% corrupt entity. It's a boondoggle from start to finish. Like, white men bring the money. They bring an excess of money for themselves outsized to all value that they provide. If a woman steps into that role, she never makes that amount of money. The money just doesn't come. Why in a sport dominated by women are the leadership and authority positions largely held by men? If those men go away, does the whole corrupt enterprise fail because it was corrupt and can't stand without corruption?

Know what I'm saying? People who want USGA to stay are probably as cynical as I am and fear that the house of cards crumbles without the corrupt backbone. But, of course, then I guess it crumbles. And industry that breaks the lives and bodies of young girls should not survive. I'd like to see football go down, too. An industry that chews up the bodies of black men and leaves terror in its path should not make gobs and gobs of money for corrupt white men.
posted by amanda at 8:53 AM on January 17, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'm a gymnastics fan. I did low-level gymnastics as a child and just kept watching. I'm angry and sad. My thoughts are all over the place.

Larry Nassar is the most prolific abuser, but he's not the only one USA Gymnastics has enabled.

Thank you, Orlop, for your discussion of John Geddart. He's also facing some heat as both a Nassar enabler and a monster coach. From the article:
“While a gymnast would be in the spotting belt over a set of uneven bars, they would often get dropped from mid air, 15 feet up, if they made a mistake,” Lemke said. “Geddert  would let go of the ropes  that controlled the belt and therefore the gymnast.”
I don't know whether a new USA Gymnastics would be better than the one we have now, but I don't think anyone involved with enabling men like Larry Nassar should be part of the future of the sport.
posted by swerve at 9:21 AM on January 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


I also used to do gymnastics as a kid and have continued following it. Reading the stuff about McKayla Maroney and picturing how fabulous she was in London even though she was being sexually assaulted during the Olympics really pissed me off. Realizing that she was born in 1995, after the first accusations against Nassar, left me bawling. (having the flu may have contributed to the bawling)
posted by hydropsyche at 9:55 AM on January 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


The whole thing makes me profoundly sad and angry. All of these hundreds of girls traumatized. All of these hundreds of girls are abuse survivors who will have a lifetime of recovery and flashbacks and coping and issues with food and body and sex and sexuality and sleeping and pleasure and children and dating and nightmares and anger. I'm going home now to rage and then cuddle my dog.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


When these things come up, and they do, again and again, and the reaction is "burn it to the ground" and it's about a sport or entity or organization that primarily serves women or minorities is that you'd think you could burn it to the ground and in its place would rise a wholesome version of the bad thing run by better people, hopefully women and minorities. But then I have this nagging, cynical feeling that the thing just disappears

The gymcastic podcast discussed this on today's episode--how do you punish the organization, without taking away the opportunity to do the sport from the thousands of kids at local USA Gymnastics-affiliated clubs all over the US? They'd really like to see the USA Gymnastics board and executives removed, and possibly the organization put under outside control, though the most likely candidate for that is the US Olympic Committee (USOC), which is plenty problematic.
posted by Orlop at 11:22 AM on January 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


The survivors from today’s sentencing hearing. Many made the decision to publicly identify themselves just before their time to speak and additional survivors have asked to be heard after initially declining.

Many spoke about how little coverage this was getting on the news, especially compared to Penn State, even though Nassar’s crimes were far more prolific and long lasting. It’s awful - that it happened and that they feel ignored after their courage in coming forward.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:35 PM on January 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


MSU President Simon's comments today were sickening:
When a reporter brought up the fact that many of Nassar’s victims had criticized Michigan State for enabling their abuser, Simon said that this was not the place for that conversation. “This is their stories and their lived experiences with their words,” she said, “and I’m not going to challenge those words because it’s important for them to say their words today in their own way.”
Allow me to translate: "I won't talk about this today, because then you'd all hear me call them liars, and my career would be done."
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:01 PM on January 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


Here’s a statement from McKayla Maroney’s attorney about the NDA and Teigan’s offer to pay the fine.

I read somewhere that Simon said that she didn’t know any survivor names or even who was a student at MSU.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:11 PM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


She's also said that it's “virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile." The fact that she continues to be the president of Michigan State is a black mark on the university.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:07 PM on January 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/opinion/sunday/how-gymnastics-culture-breeds-sexual-abuse.html

I'm seeing the Olympics as a superstimulus. Is it possible to get elite performance (in gymnastics and possibly other sports) without emotional and physical abuse?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:53 PM on January 17, 2018


I just love this quote from one of the victim's statements today:

"While I came to this stand as a victim, I leave as victor."--Stephanie Robinson, a victim of Nassar who is still a minor
posted by mcduff at 7:02 PM on January 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


A few years ago (maybe even ten or more?) the Netherlands had some systemic problems in their gymnastics program with abuse. The athletes spoke out, made change and now are one of the most exciting upcoming programs in the world. If you’ve never seen Eythora Thorsdottir perform her zombie ballerina floor routine, you’re missing out. And of course there’s her teammate, the reigning Olympic champion on beam: Sanne Wevers.

So change is possible and you can win medals in a system run ethically with athlete interest in mind.

The counter argument to that is the current state of Romanian gymnastics, where they have no more than 2-3 elites healthy and able to compete internationally at one time. In Montreal Worlds last fall, there were almost no Romanians in the All Around final, but when Ragan Smith was injured, Ioana Crisan was first reserve so just made it in. This is the country of Nadia and in 40 years, a corrupt system, failures in training facilities and coaching decisions, relying on bringing back people like Catalina Ponor instead of developing new talent...and their program is effectively dead other than Larisa Iordache, who tore her Achiles in Montreal. Their elites are broken, changing nationalities, or quitting. And it is due in part to the system put in place with the Karolyis way back in the 70’s.

And we let them do the same thing here. Bc medals.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:10 PM on January 17, 2018 [11 favorites]


The Detroit News has an article on what MSU knew and when .
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:11 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wow, so reporting from inside the courtroom in the last two hours has Nassar sending the judge a letter saying he's struggling to handle the victim statements and is unsure of his mental ability to withstand the next four days.

"You spent thousands of hours perpetrating sexual assault on minors," [Judge] Aquilna said, adding that he should be able to handle a few days of impact statements.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:26 AM on January 18, 2018 [23 favorites]


"This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out.” - from the statement linked in guster4lovers' post above

This is somehow the part of this whole enraging mess that made me angriest. No, she didn't have the right to speak out because far from "encouraging her" to speak out USAG hired a whole bunch of very expensive lawyers to make sure (as much as they could) that she didn't speak out. The hypocrisy is stunning.
posted by *becca* at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


guster4lovers, I am so pleased to meet another dedicated gymfan. I'm only sorry we met under these circumstances, and not, say, in the comments section at The Balance Beam Situation.

I'm seeing the Olympics as a superstimulus. Is it possible to get elite performance (in gymnastics and possibly other sports) without emotional and physical abuse?

Thinking on this question the other day, I found myself thinking that maybe the US should be barred from sending gymnasts to the Olympics for a couple of Olympic cycles, shake up the program and reboot it with that ultimate reward off the table. There's still so much for gymnasts to do without the Olympics.
posted by Orlop at 9:35 AM on January 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


I found myself thinking that maybe the US should be barred from sending gymnasts to the Olympics for a couple of Olympic cycles, shake up the program and reboot it with that ultimate reward off the table.

This would only serve to punish the athletes who are the victims here. The problem is with the leadership, not the athletes - this is why I want to see USAG stripped of their oversight role, in favor of a new body that takes the athletes they oversee seriously.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


This would only serve to punish the athletes who are the victims here. The problem is with the leadership, not the athletes - this is why I want to see USAG stripped of their oversight role, in favor of a new body that takes the athletes they oversee seriously.

I take your point, but there are plenty of non-Olympic opportunities for gymnasts, including major international competitions. And there are plenty of sports that aren't Olympic sports at all, including a couple of gymnastics disciplines. What losing the Olympics takes away is the potential for super-high-profile gold medals, and the brief period of lucrative national attention and sponsorships that some women gymnasts can have after a strong Olympic showing. With Olympic teams getting smaller and smaller (they've been reduced in size again for 2020), that's an ever-more-remote opportunity, which can only increase the pressure on individual gymnasts and the corresponding power of the gatekeepers who control who gets invited to training camps and who makes the team, especially in a large, resource-rich country like the US, where there are many more elite women capable of competing at the Olympics than can ever hope to make a team.
posted by Orlop at 10:10 AM on January 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


I agree with you about USA Gymnastics, though.
posted by Orlop at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2018


The Detroit News has an article on what MSU knew and when.

These allegations...the hammer needs to come down very hard on Klages. Simon at the very least should lose her job. MSU should be facing a lot of liability for these criminal acts.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:38 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]



I take your point, but there are plenty of non-Olympic opportunities for gymnasts, including major international competitions. And there are plenty of sports that aren't Olympic sports at all, including a couple of gymnastics disciplines. What losing the Olympics takes away is the potential for super-high-profile gold medals, and the brief period of lucrative national attention and sponsorships that some women gymnasts can have after a strong Olympic showing.


This is still punishing the athletes for the sins of others. As you acknowledge, the problems lie with the leadership of USA Gymnastics abusing their power, so let's punish them by stripping them of that power.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:36 AM on January 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


In the shitshow of news from USAG lately, we finally have some good news: The Ranch is no longer open for USAG national team camps. Thank God.

And I’m pleased to find other gymnerds here on mefi, Orlop! I do most of my gymnerding on twitter these days.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:47 PM on January 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


An open letter to the judge presiding over Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing, written by D'Arcy Maine | espnW.com

It starts with this note:
Nearly 100 victims are expected to speak during the four-day sentencing hearing against former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar. Ingham County (Michigan) Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is presiding over the hearing and thoroughly listening to each speaker's statement. For this, and for the respect and compassion she has shown to each and every courageous woman who has spoken, we thank her.
The full letter is worth the read.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:55 PM on January 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


Michigan judge dismisses complaints made by Larry Nassar about his sentencing hearing (Dan Murphy, ESPN)
Larry Nassar told a circuit court judge in a letter this week that he wasn't sure if he was mentally able to handle facing a week of comments from the women he has admitted to abusing for decades.
...
He wrote a six-page letter to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina this week detailing his concerns about the sentencing hearing for his mental health.
...
Aquilina told him that mental health officials and emergency medical technicians are on alert, should he need them. She did not take pity on what he said was a call for help in the form of his letter.

"You may find it harsh that you are here listening," she said. "But nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands."

Aquilina said she will address more of the lengthy letter at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, which is scheduled to end Friday. She is not sure yet if she will release it in full to the public.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:19 PM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is still punishing the athletes for the sins of others. As you acknowledge, the problems lie with the leadership of USA Gymnastics abusing their power, so let's punish them by stripping them of that power.

I don't know. It could increase the well-being of hundreds of gymnasts at the cost of a Simone Biles having to be happy with "merely" being world champion year after year and not getting to do Dancing with the Stars, or a Mary Lou Retton not getting to be America's Sweetheart for a couple of years. I guess I'm saying that there is a lot more to gymnastics than the Olympics, even though most people only follow the sport at the Olympics every four years. And this is a structural change that could eliminate some of the pressure on coaches, gyms, the organization as a whole, and, most importantly, on the gymnasts.

I've been watching this documentary series about airline safety, and in doing studies about airplane evacuations, they found that a certain size plane could easily be evacuated in about 90 seconds. But, in trying to replicate emergency conditions, they offered cash prizes to the first people to get off the plane. That led to people climbing over seats with people still in them, shoving each other back, jamming exit doors in such a way that nobody could get through them. Olympic gold is the cash prize for being first off the plane--it's a perverse incentive that encourages bad behavior.

Of course, the perverse incentive of exceptionally rare Olympic medals is multiplied tremendously by the centralized team camp structure that came in with the Karolyis. If you look at, say, figure skating, it doesn't have that--not that figure skating is a bastion of perfect objective judging and optimized decision-making. But it still has the decentralized structure gymnastics had many years ago, where gymnasts worked primarily with their home gym coaches. Under the centralized structure, girls start getting invited to national team camps--as often as monthly--starting at 11 or 12, and so from that time on are under the eyes of a single powerful decision-maker. If that single decision-maker is a bad actor--as Marta Karolyi surely has been--it's bad not just for the girls who eventually grow up to make the Olympics but for the many more girls who are part of the national team during their preteen and teen years. It's great that USA Gymnastics has decided not to keep using the ranch (I actually thought this had already happened and was disappointed to learn I was wrong), but I'd like to see the organization choose to--or be forced to--re-think the centralized team structure as well. A structure that creates overly-powerful individuals and rewards them not for athlete well-being but for results as measured in medal counts can't be corrected simply by putting new people into those roles.
posted by Orlop at 1:34 PM on January 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


As #Nassar victims speak, Preston the therapy dog is waiting to help anyone who needs it. Lots of victims have sat with him. @Local4News pic.twitter.com/l5qVg7K1EX— Nick Monacelli (@nickmonacelli) January 16, 2018
posted by nicebookrack at 4:52 PM on January 18, 2018 [11 favorites]


A structure that creates overly-powerful individuals and rewards them not for athlete well-being but for results as measured in medal counts can't be corrected simply by putting new people into those roles.

Which is why people are saying to remove that very structure - USA Gymnastics. Refusing to field an Olympic team doesn't do anything to fix the issue, and penalizes the very athletes who were abused. The answer is to replace USAG as the oversight body with a new organization that takes athlete health seriously and includes athletes in its leadership.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:01 PM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


And I’m pleased to find other gymnerds here on mefi, Orlop! I do most of my gymnerding on twitter these days.

When we left Twistars--which we did without notice, that seeming the safest way--I deleted all of my social media accounts except Facebook, where I heavily weeded my friends list, locked down my privacy settings, and pre-emptively blocked John Geddert and the Twistars account. I took a brand new day here at MetaFilter and became Orlop, because my old account had become way too transparent about who I was, and revealed too much about my gymnast son and the rest of our family.

I miss gymnastics twitter. Might dip my toes back in under a new alias. John Geddert's certainly got much bigger axes to grind than punishing a former gym parent who pissed him off almost a year ago.

I got another inkling of how well-known his bad behavior was when we left. A week or so after we left the gym, I realized that it was very likely that nobody had let the Booster Club know that we were no longer with the gym. There was a major meet coming up in a couple of weeks--one of the girls' state meets, I think, was being hosted at Twistars--and our family was required to "volunteer" 25 hours of work during the weekend, as well as working cleanup after the end of the meet on Sunday night.

I sent an email to the president of the Booster Club letting her know that we were no longer affiliated with the gym, apologizing for giving such short notice, and letting her know we wouldn't be working our hours.

She wrote me a very frustrated and angry email back. "John says you have to work the hours." ("John" saying anything about the Booster Club is a violation of the law--athletic booster clubs are supposed to be independent of the gym ownership, as they are supposed to exist to benefit the athletes, not be a sneaky non-profit way to, say, buy equipment for the gym or whatever, something that had happened during our time at Twistars, when the Booster Club used club funds to buy a new vault table for the gym. But Geddert attended all the Booster Club board and member meetings). She went on to tell me how irresponsible it was for us to cut out on our volunteer commitment with such short notice, and how we had an obligation to the booster club that we had to fulfill, and how impossible it would be to cover our shifts. She was really steamed, and no wonder, because hosting these kind of meets was a huge production--there'd be so many gymnasts attending that there would be meets running from 8 in the morning until 10 at night in three or even four separate competition gyms. They were also a major fundraiser, bringing in between $50,000 and $100,000 to the booster club.

I wrote her that we were sincerely sorry to leave the Booster Club in the lurch (we were), and that I wouldn't go into detail because I had to assume that anything I said might be shared with John Geddert, but that we'd had dealings with him that made us feel very strongly that it would be a very bad idea to be at Twistars or at any other place where we were likely to run into him.

She wrote me back a two-sentence email, something along the lines of, "OK. Good luck at your new gym." I thought, "Wow. She knows what it means to get on Geddert's bad side."
posted by Orlop at 9:55 PM on January 18, 2018 [9 favorites]


Orlop, I’m so sorry to hear that. Geddert sounds like a terrible piece of human garbage. I started wondering about him when the Trinidad Rio situation came out. His conduct there was suspect at best.

Jordyn Wieber has come out as a Nassar survivor today and seems to be implicating Geddert in the abuse too. Aly is with her in court. The number of speakers is expected to by 117 now.

That makes almost the entire 2012 team Nassar survivors. Not surprising, but devastating.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:12 AM on January 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


This has been a really hard week for me. (Trigger warning: about to speak of childhood trauma.) Out of a sense of solidarity, I've paid a lot of attention to the women testifying, and it has left me shaking, and teary, and twitchy. And yet, so proud of them. Such strength from such young people has deeply touched me.

I was a gymnast, and I was abused by my coaches. My friends were gymnasts, and they were abused by coaches. The percentage of female gymnasts I have spoken with, who as children had inappropriate physical interactions with athletic-related adults is shockingly high.

The first time I was penetrated by a man was when I was seven. This coach slid his finger inside me to "massage" me after I fell on beam. By the time I was twelve, a man was holding my boobs so he could tape them down so I was "flat, like the other girls", and always wanted to "kiss them to make them better" after the tape came off. By the time I was 13 or 14, I had no idea what physical boundaries were, it was like I disassociated myself from my body...whenever anyone touched me, it's like I was watching it from above, like a video game.

I am old enough that I watched Nadia Comaneci get a perfect 10 while I was at the gym training to try out for the 80 games. Even then, gymnasts were talking about coaches who did the same thing Nassar did. USA Gymnastics has always known about these coaches. They will get rid of any girl or parent who makes too much noise about those coaches. It's been true since USA Gymnastics was founded. It's true now. USA Gymnastics, Geddert, et.al., needs to be burned to the ground, the earth salted where it stood, and gated by a wall of heads on pikes of the enablers.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:59 AM on January 19, 2018 [36 favorites]


I’m so sorry that you had to experience that, SecretAgentSockpuppet, and I’m so proud of you and the women in Michigan this week for sharing your stories and speaking out against abusers and their enablers.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:37 AM on January 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


In a breathtaking display of tonedeaf hubris, it appears that USA Gymnastics is attempting to take credit for stopping Nassar.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:23 AM on January 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Aly Raisman Is Ready To Burn It All Down

USA Gymnastics doesn't appear to be salvageable -- especially after reading Existential Dread's link -- but if it's to be saved, or if a viable gymnastics association is to rise from its ashes -- strong women like Aly Raisman are going to have to be at the center of it. It shouldn't be their job to fix this, but nobody else is going to.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:27 AM on January 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


It’s infuriating that the gymasts like Aly Raisman haven’t always been the center and priority of USAG all along. The complicit adults and organizations have treated children and young women like they are fancy dogs, to be taught tricks and trotted our for display at Westminster shows and then locked back in their kennels.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


In a breathtaking display of tonedeaf hubris, it appears that USA Gymnastics is attempting to take credit for stopping Nassar.

What I like about the highlighted sentence in that link is that it reads "USAG's actions helped stopped Nassar."

The typo suggests to me that USAG's original draft took ALL the credit, and that in revision someone felt that was maybe a little much.

Helped stopped indeed.
posted by gauche at 1:53 PM on January 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


SecretAgentSockPuppet thank you for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’d encourage you to take care of yourself during the testimony and if that means turning it off, that’s totally okay. I’ve been reading highlights mostly for that reason.

The NYTimes posted an article about the USOC and its ability to decertify USAG.


And if you haven’t watched or read Aly’s testimony, it’s worth it, if you can. She is so many levels of amazing. One of the many things that she said that resonated with me is that she didn’t let Nassar take gymnastics from her. As angry as I am at the people who let this happen, I won’t let the bastards tear gymnastics away from me.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:38 PM on January 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have no idea if she's interested, but I really hope that USAG's successor organization offers to bring Aly Raisman on board in a leadership capacity when she retires.
posted by mosst at 2:48 PM on January 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Lynn Raisman and Kathy Johnson are two people that USAG should be considering bringing on board. And when Aly is ready, let her run the whole damned thing.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:47 PM on January 19, 2018


> The complicit adults and organizations have treated children and young women like they are fancy dogs, to be taught tricks and trotted our for display at Westminster shows and then locked back in their kennels.

Yes...and they forgot to notice that they were also raising up women who are phenomenally disciplined and single-minded when in pursuit of something they want. Like gold medals. Or justice.
posted by rtha at 6:41 PM on January 19, 2018 [20 favorites]


That makes almost the entire 2012 team Nassar survivors. Not surprising, but devastating.

Yeah. I felt it like a punch in the gut when Simone Biles identified herself as a survivor, and then this morning when I got on my computer and the first thing I saw was Jordyn Wieber. Not that they're more important than the many gymnasts you haven't heard of, but they're people you're already thinking about. The possibility that Jordyn Wieber escaped being abused, as a Twistars gymnast and an Olympian, was so vanishingly small--but somehow you still hope, you know, that somebody managed to stay safe somehow.
posted by Orlop at 9:50 PM on January 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


In other positive news, Nassar’s YouTube channel of osteopathic videos was finally taken down today. And it was Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers and Michael Gregory of the Gregory Brothers who made it happen. A parent of one of the gymnasts in one of the videos went to twitter to ask how to get her daughter off that trash human being’s channel, and within five hours of that tweet, the channel was gone.

I can’t even imagine how awful that was for the families featured in his videos. And the media was apparently taking those videos as B roll for their news reports about Nassar. Which is equally awful but much harder to stop when the videos are still online.

**

Jordyn hit me pretty hard too, though I’m so glad she and Aly were there. I respected Aly’s decision not to go, but her presence and statement seem to be the tipping point in the media. The New York Times is printing her statement in its entirety in the Sunday edition. I saw more articles today about the sentencing than there has been for the first three days combined. It killed me to hear Jordyn wonder if missing the all around in London was because Larry misdiagnosed and undertreated her stress fracture. And I’m sure Geddert didn’t take that news well either.

And several of the girls today singled out Geddert to talk about his abusive environment and his facilitation of Larry’s abuse. I’m glad he is getting the spotlight finally. He did unfriend several prominent gymnastics bloggers on Facebook today though. So he clearly is feeling the heat.

People are listening. Finally.

It also came up on twitter that Carly Patterson (2004 All Around gold medalist) said she wasn’t a Nassar survivor but that she had lots of friends who were and she supported them. It made me wonder why there are so few survivors from 2001-2009, at least that we know about. I hope there really are fewer in those quads, but given the high percentage of survivors on the last two teams, that seems naive.

But what changed between Sydney and Athens? That’s when Valeri Luikin has risen to prominence, with Patterson then Nastia under his coaching. That’s also when all gymnasts got to have personal coaches on the floor in major international ccompetitions instead of two head coaches only. Or was that when Larry was more focused on Michigan? Or did Geddert bring him in to a larger role as head coach in Tokyo 2011 and London 2012? We do have several accounts that those two competitions included some of the most horrifying assaults on record.

I don’t know what was different then, which is another problem. Someone should have investigated this shit. Someone should have figured out the full scope and timeline because it’s unacceptable that we are only seeing the tip of the Nassar iceberg of evil. This man has been around for at least seven Olympic quads as part of the national team staff. And the only people brave enough to bring this into the light are the survivors. Thank God for all of them. But I wish they could have been spared the feeling that no one is listening to them and that no one even cares.

I care. I see them. Their stories matter. I’m glad people are finally listening.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:45 PM on January 19, 2018 [12 favorites]


MSU Board of Trustees chair Brian Breslin has said that he will not stand for re-election to the Board this year (translation: the GOP (trustee candidates are put forth by the parties) has told him that they will not nominate him.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:31 PM on January 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


USA Gymnastics has finally suspended Geddert . While it amazes me that they didn't just break ties, I think that Geddert is about to find out that when tyrants fall, few people are looking to cushion the landing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:31 AM on January 23, 2018


Recent news round-up:

- USA Gymnastics' entire Board of Directors has resigned.

- Over 140 victims have testified in court, bolstered by a strong advocate in Judge Aquilina.

- MSU Board of Trustees member Joel Ferguson appears to not have heeded the warning to stop digging.
MLive:
"The young ladies who have been wronged, they're going to get something happening in their favor," said Ferguson, who is the vice chairman of the board of trustees. It's unclear whether his comment was referring to a lawsuit settlement
Detroit Free Press:
"The meeting we had the other day was five hours. And talking Lou Anna was 10 minutes," he said, later saying: "We unanimously decided in that meeting right away … we were going to support her staying as president.

"There’s so many more things going on at the university than just this Nassar thing."
posted by Existential Dread at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


@KatieJStrang:
Amanda McGeachie, whose statement is being read now, said she had little choice to come forward publicly. She said MSU is using an investigator to ask her former rowing teammates about her injuries/ medical treatments/history, which effectively outed her.
Revolting.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:42 AM on January 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Remember that in her blast email, Simon stated that MSU would mount a "vigorous defense" because of their insurer.

This is what that looks like.

Simon needs to go. Now.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:18 AM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]




While it's good to see this monster sentenced, I am bothered by the judge's "death warrant" comment. While I get both the emotion and reasoning behind it - the sentence is effectively life without parole - it's worth remembering that a death warrant is a colloquial name for an order of execution, and those implications, no matter how unintended, are problematic. On a more practical note, it could very well open a door for appeals.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:12 AM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


So many amazing voices, and Judge Aquilina is a hero for supporting them so strongly. These women have done their peers, children, and abuse survivors a real service.

The phrase "stolen innocence" has been officially relieved of its duties.
posted by maniabug at 10:24 AM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


While it's good to see this monster sentenced, I am bothered by the judge's "death warrant" comment. While I get both the emotion and reasoning behind it - the sentence is effectively life without parole - it's worth remembering that a death warrant is a colloquial name for an order of execution, and those implications, no matter how unintended, are problematic. On a more practical note, it could very well open a door for appeals.

I've been wondering about that too. Since this is a sentencing phase, I'm not sure what actions are available.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:43 AM on January 24, 2018


Since Nassar pleaded guilty, how much room is there for appeals?
posted by hydropsyche at 10:46 AM on January 24, 2018


My understanding from following along is that there is no appeal possible because the judges minimum sentence was within the range specified by his plea deal. There was some minute possibility that the judge would order a larger sentence which would have been the only chance to reopen the deal/try the case over.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:06 AM on January 24, 2018


Deadspin has been one of the few general sports sites I've seen with sustained coverage of the Larry Nassar case over the past year. From Dvora Meyers today: What Larry Nasser's Victims Wanted Us to Know
But during the seven days of victim impact statements in Aquilina’s courtroom, which concluded this morning, the only question that survivors needed to answer was “What would you like me to know?” They were free to answer however they chose. They could reveal specific details of their abuse or they could leave them out. They were free to talk about other aspects of their lives if they wished—the kind of people they were before the abuse started, who they are now, and their hopes for the future—and many did. They were not being guided by what people needed to know to make a case or what the public might have wanted to know but only what they wanted us to know. The cumulative effect of seeing 156 women answer Judge Aquilina’s question was shattering.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:04 PM on January 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


This GIF of Judge Aquilina throwing away the letter Larry Nassar wrote the court about how hard it is for him to listen to victim testimonies PRETTY MUCH SAYS IT ALL. pic.twitter.com/5HB9WMaPqU — Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) January 24, 2018

Charles P. Pierce at Sports Illustrated: Burn It All Down: It's Time For Every Last Coward Who Enabled Larry Nassar To Pay For Their Sins
posted by nicebookrack at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


I have been so impressed with the judge throughout the case and I will still applaud much of what she's said and done, but it is beyond the pale to publicly wish you could sentence someone to rape, and to do that as the judge? That's horrific.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:40 PM on January 24, 2018


I wasn't watching live but can someone provide tape or transcript about wishing rape on Nassar? the "im signing your death warrant" comment is pretty defensible, imo, as she was saying hell die in jail (because of the lengthy sentence, not some implied threat of prison violence).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:48 PM on January 24, 2018


Here is the part about wishing rape on him.
"Our Constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment. If it did, I have to say, I might allow what he did to all of these beautiful souls—these young women in their childhood—I would allow someone or many people to do to him what he did to others."
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2018


I'm also fine with the death warrant comment, fwiw, but wishing for rape to be a punishment for rape is about a thousand ways of missing the point and enforcing rape culture.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


"The Michigan House took up a resolution Wednesday afternoon calling for MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon to resign.

The vote passed 96-11.

"As leader of the university, President Simon is inherently responsible for perpetuating a sick culture that allowed a predator to continue molesting new young women and girls while also forcing his past victims to endure their suffering in silence. Her blatant failure to protect students from Nassar’s abuse proves that she is unfit to continue as president of the university, and must resign or be removed immediately,” State Representative Adam Zemke said in a press release. "
posted by Existential Dread at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


The rape comment highlights something that's been lurking in the back of my mind — what are the odds that Nassar is also an abuse victim?
posted by maniabug at 2:14 PM on January 24, 2018


The idea that (male) abuse victims are more likely to be abusers is based on faulty science. They ask abusers if they were abused instead of figuring out if abuse victims because abusers. Even if he was, most victims don't go on to abuse hundreds of children for decades so it doesn't seem to be germane.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:20 PM on January 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Interesting, I did not know about any science conducted on this. I will have to study up, and if you have any links to share I would be grateful.

If he was a victim it seems that would be at least plausibly germane.
posted by maniabug at 2:28 PM on January 24, 2018


The reason it's not germane is because it's used to further harm victims who will never abuse anyone. Everyone wants to find a reason for horribleness like this, but people should be careful that searching for that sort of understanding can create splash damage they didn't mean. It is also used to in some ways absolve or excuse the abuser.


From a piece on the victim to abuser cycle
There is a firmly held belief in the general population that most perpetrators of sexual assault experienced sexual abuse as children and, therefore, that males who were sexually abused in childhood are more likely to commit sexual assault when they grow up. However, apart from the fact that prevalence rates for sexual abuse in childhood are higher among perpetrators of sexual assault than among adult males in the general population, being sexually abused as a child does not seem to be either a necessary or a sufficient condition to sexually offend later on in life.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:43 PM on January 24, 2018 [5 favorites]




I very much want the letter he sent to the judge to be part of the public record. We need documents like that - showcases of the doublethink and excuses and "oh, hearing about what I did is so hard on me" and "how dare they not respect all the good I did for them."

We could deconstruct it in great detail, show all the twisted logic that makes someone like him believe what he's doing is okay, and USE that deconstruction when facing other guys, who may not have committed crimes, but whose mental pathways are the same.

We really, really need to be able to say to the actual good, would-never-do-that guys, that when one of their buddies says, "oh, that's not how it was; let me tell you what it was like for real," that what he convinced himself was "the truth" bears no relation to what actually happened.

His letter says, in part:
I was a good doctor. Because my treatment is [?????] and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised me and came back over and over and referred family and friends to see me. 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 scored. It is just a complete nightmare.
And he goes on to claim his attorneys pressured him into pleading guilty instead of "No Contest," and other bits of "no really, I didn't do it, even though that's what I agreed I did."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:09 PM on January 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


The more I read, the crazier it gets. Simon started her career with a master's degree in .... student personnel and counseling?? You just couldn't make this s*** up.

Thank you for the link, INESTBHT. Obviously, and predictably, the variables surrounding cyclical victimization are complex and intertwined.
posted by maniabug at 5:39 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also INESTBHT please know your point about cascading revictimization is well taken. I hesitated to wonder aloud about the potential for trauma in LN's past for exactly that reason.
posted by maniabug at 6:00 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Here's the official announcement of resignation.

Allow me to say this: if you feel the need to repeatedly assert your integrity, you probably don't have any.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:09 PM on January 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


From that statement:
As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.
Someone ought to tell her to quit digging.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:10 PM on January 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


Speaking of digging, Geddert apparently threatened Lindsey Lemke after she named him in her statement. You'd think that he'd be smart enough to realize that he's on the lists of more than a few people, but I'd imagine that old habits die hard, and he thinks he can put this in a bottle.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:38 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


More bad things are coming to light for MSU. ESPN: Michigan State sought to end federal oversight, delayed sending Nassar files
Michigan State University, under U.S. Department of Education oversight since 2014 because of its mishandling of sexual assault and gender discrimination cases, asked federal officials last fall to end their monitoring of the university because administrators had been acting in "good faith" and had "gone above and beyond" in meeting standards laid out by federal officials, according to documents obtained by Outside the Lines.

The Oct. 17 request was rejected outright by federal officials for several reasons but in large part because of how the university has handled sexual assault allegations against former MSU athletics physician Larry Nassar, the documents obtained by Outside the Lines show:

Michigan State administrators in 2014 did not notify federal officials that the university had dual Title IX and campus police investigations of Nassar underway even though federal investigators were on campus that year scrutinizing how MSU dealt with sexual assault allegations.

MSU administrators still have not provided to federal officials all documents related to the Nassar allegations.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:23 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Fox Sports Has Completely Ignored The Larry Nassar Sex Abuse Story
A Fox Sports spokesman declined to discuss the coverage on the record, but noted that the network doesn’t cover gymnastics. This leaves several remaining questions. Does Fox Sports only cover sports it has the rights to? (The answer to that one is no.) Is there no one—not even one of the dozens of people Fox pays to talk about sports news on TV—who was willing or able to discuss Nassar? Are there plans to cover major news stories like the USA Gymnastics sex abuse case in the future?

Further, while it wouldn’t serve as much of an explanation, the assertion that Fox Sports doesn’t cover gymnastics isn’t even correct. It’s not a staple for the network, but if Fox Sports can marvel at Simone Biles’s strength, it can acknowledge she was sexually abused by her team doctor. [...]

Fox Sports’s refusal to cover story shows not only an unwillingness to do so—surely one of their reporters could have gotten up to speed on the story in time to at least cover the basic outlines of the case during sentencing—but also the outer limitations of the network’s reliance on blunt-force, “I’m right, you’re wrong” talk shows. There is no “actually, sexual abuse is good” take for Colin Cowherd to offer, no debate to be embraced. All that there is are the facts.
For those who are screaming "follow the money!" into their monitors right now...
Update (1:55 p.m. ET): A reader points out that in April 2016, Fox Sports “finalized a 15-year agreement reportedly worth more than $150-million” with Michigan State for the school’s multimedia rights, according to the Lansing State Journal.
Despicable.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2018 [15 favorites]


Jeré Longman, NYT: Will Larry Nassar Take Down the U.S. Olympic Committee?

USOC, quick to claim credit, slow to claim blame, quick to throw others under the bus.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:46 PM on January 25, 2018


Fox Sports Has Completely Ignored The Larry Nassar Sex Abuse Story

Why are they claiming that it's just a sports story and not a news and/or culture story? Plenty of people who don't care about sports are following this story, this is a big deal.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:58 PM on January 25, 2018


Apparently MSU President Lu Anna Simon has one hell of a golden parachute [WaPo], to the tune of $750,000/yr for returning to the university as a regular faculty member.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:10 PM on January 25, 2018


How much of that money will she be donating to the victims on her watch?
posted by maniabug at 7:23 AM on January 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


The dominoes are starting to fall more quickly now.

ABC News: USOC demands that the entire USA Gymnastics board resign or have the organization decertified.

Detroit Free Press: MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis 'retires'
posted by Existential Dread at 9:14 AM on January 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Further to Hollis' retirement, ESPN has another long-form article detailing a broader culture of secrecy around sexual assault allegations in the athletic department at MSU, roping in the 'revenue sports' of basketball and football. This is probably going fairly far afield from Nassar at this point, but it appears the investigations there are going to continue and broaden.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:21 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Looking to do some followup here... an email to my congressman asking about S.534 has not been returned after a few days. When I google athletic safety advocacy, and visit a bunch of the top hits, I get to places that make no mention of this major case. Is it just me, or is that odd? The National Athletic Trainers Association has a twitter feed full of its awesome manifesto, but no mention of Nassar that I could find.

US Center for SafeSport was apparently created during the Nassar spectacle, but there seem to be some questions anyway. Looks like they don't have a twitter or website blog/news section.

RAINN's twitter feed is on the ball. Who else is out there walking the walk, weighing in at this historic moment, and naming names? Do any of the victims endorse specific groups?

It seems as the big news pieces wind down this is the moment when everything gets forgotten till next time, and a good time to push for next steps/send support.
posted by maniabug at 11:21 AM on January 26, 2018


These reports keep coming with new bombshells. Now the Lansing State Journal is reporting that MSU provided a Title IX complaint response to a victim that contained different information from what they provided to Nassar and his boss. Two key quotes:
A 2014 sexual assault investigation of Larry Nassar by MSU’s Title IX office concluded that his conduct could open the university to lawsuits and expose patients to “unnecessary trauma based on the possibility of perceived inappropriate sexual misconduct.”

Those key findings were never shared with Amanda Thomashow, the patient who said Nassar had assaulted her. Instead, those conclusions were part of a second report that went to Michigan State University’s Office of General Counsel, Nassar and his then-boss at the College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel.
and
Strampel apparently responded to the guidance in Moore’s report by creating protocols for Nassar’s return to seeing patients. They included a requirement to wear gloves when performing procedures in intimate areas, to have another person present during such treatments and to explain the procedure and obtain consent before treating patients.

When MSU terminated Nassar in September 2016, one of the reasons was his failure to follow those protocols, although Strampel himself later acknowledged that he had not tried to enforce them after the Title IX review concluded there was no violation of university policy.
MSU and Strampel appear to have enabled Nassar to continue assaulting his victims and directly violating their obligations under Title IX. This is both disgusting and could represent real liability for MSU.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:52 PM on January 26, 2018 [5 favorites]




NYTimes: Larry Nassar, Sentenced in Sexual Abuse Case, Heads Back to Court
Lawrence G. Nassar, the former doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics and a Michigan State University sports clinic who was sentenced last week to decades in prison for sexual abuse, appeared in another Michigan courtroom on Wednesday on similar charges in a separate case.
Similar to his last case, his victims are being invited to testify. 65 have committed to do this so far.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


And his attorney continues to be a horrible person:
Larry Nassar’s defense attorney, Shannon Smith, told Detroit radio WWJ on Thursday that she has a “very hard time believing” her client sexually abused hundreds of young girls and women.

Smith, who has represented the disgraced doctor since December 2016, commented on his ongoing sentencing that has taken place in recent weeks.

“I have a very hard time believing that my client could have even possibly assaulted that many people day in and day out in front of their parents. And that every single one of those things was a crime, but he was such a manipulator he got away with it,” Smith said. “I just can’t imagine that’s true.”
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:37 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


The father of three of Nassar's victims attempted to assault him in the court after the judge (wisely) refused his request to have 5 minutes alone with him.

Honestly, I'm surprised it took this long for an attempt to be made.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:41 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I'm surprised it took this long for an attempt to be made.

Literally my first thought when I read this news.

In defense of the dad, he asked the judge for 1 minute alone in a locked room after the judge declined him 5 minutes.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:01 AM on February 2, 2018


I dunno, the father wanting to beat Nassar up just seems like more toxic masculinity to me. Why is the father even speaking? Did his daughters ask him to speak on their behalf, or is he speaking because he feels HE was harmed? Have other men spoken?
posted by postel's law at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


Yes other parents have spoken. This is more toxic masculinity and shouldn't be exactly applauded, but it's also understandable how this would happen. I don't know your history, but as a survivor of childhood sexual assault, that's the sort of thing that absolutely harms the whole family. I'm 30 years beyond it and I still catch my dad about to cry sometimes when he looks at me.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:01 AM on February 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


As a note to people generally though, threatening to beat up an abuser is a reason for people to not disclose their abuse. It seems like the right solution, but yes, one driven by toxic masculinity, but it's pretty scary for a victim and they have to make all sorts of calculations about everyone's safety when this is the expected response.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:03 AM on February 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


It took me a long time to learn how not to imagine the ways I'd murder my bullies if I ever crossed paths with them again, I can't imagine how strong that impulse would be in this context. It's a culturally promoted response, often strongly promoted (e.g. casual mentions of prison rape).
posted by rhizome at 11:52 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is where it's worth reminding people that we will literally torture Nassar to keep him alive - given his crimes, he will definitely go into administrative segregation because his life expectancy in general population could be measured with a stopwatch. So he will be put in solitary confinement in order to keep him alive.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:20 PM on February 2, 2018


For him this might be true, but the idea that pedophiles are immediately beaten or murdered isn't 100% true. I have a cousin who has spent a decade or so in gen pop as a convicted pedophile. We all assumed he's be dead inside a year.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:42 PM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]




In defense of the dad, he asked the judge for 1 minute alone in a locked room after the judge declined him 5 minutes.

How is that any sort of a defense? All this guy has done is managed to make the story today about him and his macho self image instead of keeping it focused on the victims.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:25 PM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you read the link I posted that was addressed, fwiw.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:40 PM on February 2, 2018


Eaton County has opened a criminal investigation into Geddert.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


Margraves, after spending time in a holding cell for the remainder of Friday morning's impact statements, later appeared before Cunningham and apologized for his actions.

"I'm not here to upstage my daughters," Margraves told the judge. "I'm here to help them heal." He said he didn't know what his daughters would say during their impact statements and lost control of his emotions when he saw Nassar shaking his head, as if to disagree with part of the statements.
...
On Friday afternoon, Margraves told reporters: "I want to make it real clear that I am no hero. My daughters are heroes." Molly Margraves said on behalf of her sisters that her father heard some of the things that happened to them for the first time in court Friday morning.


I leap down the throat of any hyper-masculine chest-thumping threat to beat up predators; I speak out against it a lot (especially in its insidiously casual "dad's gonna need a shotgun" formulation) and IS incredibly toxic. But in this case, I very much appreciate the father's comments afterward. A lot of men would double-down and mutter darkly about vigilantism, and he backed off and deferred to his daughters.
posted by desuetude at 8:51 AM on February 7, 2018 [10 favorites]


Larry Nassar is now an inmate of the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona "the nation’s only federal facility that is classified as high security and also has a sex offender management program". Almost all of the inmates are sex offenders.
posted by riruro at 6:53 PM on February 12, 2018


Yowza: Michigan State faculty delivers no-confidence vote on board of trustees
ESPN
Members of the faculty voted 61-4 to express no confidence in the eight-member governing body at Michigan State, according to multiple news outlets in East Lansing. The faculty does not have power to force trustees from their position; they are elected by the public for eight-year terms. But members of the school's faculty felt it was important to let the trustees know that a major part of the campus community does not approve of recent decisions they have made.
Freep
One of the four members who voted against the no-confidence motion was Shawnee Vickery, Faculty Director of the Demmer Center for Business Transformation.

It wasn’t because she still has confidence in the trustees. She doesn’t. Her issue was the motivation for the vote as conveyed in the email to faculty soliciting their input ahead of the vote.

“This vote of no confidence should be about the failure of MSU to stop Larry Nassar, and the failure of MSU to support the women who were subjected to such horrific abuse at his hands,” she said.

The motion as voted on Tuesday didn’t include a reason for the vote of no confidence. The email that went out to faculty, Vickery said, said the motion was about the process that led to Engler’s selection and the lack of faculty input on that decision.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:02 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


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