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Larry Nassar: U.S-made monster

Commentary by Sol Marquez |
January 27, 2018
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Los Angeles, CA - For some of us the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta were unforgettable. I was ten years old and when gymnast Dominique Moceanu hit the floor I froze in my tracks and watched. She may not have won, but that year Moceanu instantly became one of my heroes. Little did I know that 20 years later, Moceanu would again become a hero when speaking out against Larry Nassar for repeated sexual assaults.

Nassar is the once acclaimed and now former USA Gymnastics national team osteopathic physician. He practiced at the Karolyi Ranch as well as Michigan State University. The Karolyi Ranch is now the former national training center for the USA Gymnastics national team, and was started by Béla and Márta Károlyi, two strongly anti-communist Hungarian defectors and gymnastics coaches.

Rachael Denhollander is the Larry Nassar whistleblower, but she was not Nassar’s first victim. Court documents prove that former Michigan State University gymnastics coach Kathie Klages knew and received sexual abuse allegations against Nassar as early as 1997. The horror of it all is that for over three decades, Nassar, without so much as a second glance from his superiors, like Klages, used his power as doctor to commit assault and worse on over 150 gymnasts.

In Denhollander’s own words during the trial, “I did not know, at 15, that in 1997, three years before I walked into Larry’s exam room, that MSU’s head gymnastics coach, Kathie Klages, had waved a report form in front of Larissa Boyce, after being told by two separate gymnasts that Larry was penetrating and groping them, and told Larissa there would be consequences for her if that report form was signed.”

Now regarded as the worst sex abuse case in U.S. sports history, we must ask ourselves how is this possible in one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world? The answer is of course this case would happen here. The cost of taking Olympic gymnastics training can be up to $15,000 yearly. To be Olympic-ready gymnasts should train anywhere from five to eight years, meaning training alone could cost them up to $120,000. Because no gymnast enters the sport thinking they are going to become rich, they are motivated by undying passion for the sport. And this is why Nassar is all the worse.

Monsters like Larry Nassar are created by U.S. society and the patriarchal social relations that are at its core. The U.S. is highly decorated when it comes to upholding men in power who assault women (take Trump for example), discriminating against women, dismissing bragging about sexual assaults as “locker room talk,” and blaming us for our own rapes, assaults, violence, and overall disparity. All of this combined results in the breeding of predators like Nassar. Not once did any survivor who came forward to accuse Nassar see a change, not once was Nassar or his superiors held accountable.

To protect a booming business of sports, questioning the training facilities and coaches, or their trusted physicians who work with athletes is unthinkable. The Karolyi Ranch, on the day it was announced that it would no longer host USA Gymnastics practices, was hosting practice for gymnasts!

An independent investigation must be conducted to find all those complicit in Nassar’s crimes - even if various coaches and administrators involved in the Nassar crimes are now falling or resigning. There are countless people in positions of power who knew, and did, nothing.

The courage and determination of over 150 women, teens and children are proof that predators will fall, when we unite and fight back. We have Nassar’s sentencing to bring us a tiny glimmer of hope but it is a glimmer nonetheless. And while we were able to hear directly from the survivors in this case, there are plenty of other survivors. Don’t immediately protect a predator like Nassar. Listen to us, and continue fighting alongside us for our liberation.

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