One of our nation’s most horrific cases of sexual assault at a massive level came to light last November when 54-year-old Larry Nassar was convicted of 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and served with more than 150 lawsuits from women claiming he sexually assaulted them under the guise of “medical treatment”. Larry Nassar was a sports physician at Michigan State University, doctor for Team USA, and served as the USA Gymnastics’ national medical coordinator for more than 20 combined years—all the while committing sexual crimes to underage girls.
The most horrifying detail of this case might be the fact that it’s being discovered that multiple university administrators, faculty members, and even a few parents had been notified that the sexual crimes were happening and turned a blind eye. According to an investigative article by ESPN, multiple students reported Nassar after being sexually assaulted and/or manipulated. After all these instances, the reports were buried and ignored. Why? Because Nassar manipulated more than just his students.
According to the article, Nassar knew what he was doing, knew how athletically gifted his students were and how much their parents wished to see them become Olympic athletes, and knew how to manipulate parents and university faculty members alike to think nothing could possibly be out of the ordinary when he spent so much time alone with his female students—even to the point of being alone with them at his own house.
According to parents, he was type of person anyone could trust because he would do “anything for anybody at any time of day that you asked.” He emotionally manipulated everyone who worked with him or sought his assistance in taking care of young gymnasts. He was allowed to do evasive medical procedures on underage girls without anyone else being in the room or with parental consent. University staff members who knew simply brushed the issue aside and instructed parents that it needed to be “kept quiet”.
The time to keep quiet is finally over. Over the past few months, Nassar’s victims came forward to report the crimes he’s committed. In hearings held in January 2018, victims finally told their stories of what happened and how Nassar was able to get away with it. For anyone who hears or reads about these stories, the retellings are heartbreaking.
How and why was this allowed to happen? Nassar may have been an emotional manipulator and sexual predator unlike any the university/organization had seen, but the fact that so many professionals turned a blind eye to his acts proves that our system must change. Schools and institutions must do more to protect students—and they must actually believe the victims when they come forward reporting a sexual crime.
In the U.S., we have a federal law that protects victims of sexual violence/harassment in educational institutions. This law is referred to as Title IX. Title IX protects victims of sexual violence by requiring school authorities to investigate any reports made immediately—even if there is only a single report made. When schools fail to follow Title IX procedures, they can face severe legal ramifications.
In the case of Larry Nassar, there was a total of one Title IX claim brought up against him during his years of sexual misconduct that was later dropped. It’s obvious that multiple school authorities and faculty members were guilty of failing to follow Title IX procedures. Nassar was sentenced for up to 175 years in prison by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who told him, “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. Because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.” MSU and USA Olympics are now facing legal charges as well.
If you or someone you love was a victim of sexual violence at a school or university in the United States and you feel the school’s authorities or faculty members did not take the necessary steps to stop the misconduct in its tracks, you have a legal right to file a Title IX lawsuit against the institution or professional. A civil lawsuit can be filed in addition to any criminal charges that may be in place.
To learn more, get in touch with Thomas Law Offices as soon as possible. Our Title IX lawyers can file a claim on your behalf and help you obtain justice for acts that should not have been allowed to happen.