54-year-old sports doctor Larry Nassar, who has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes, is facing an additional minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls at Michigan State University and his home. Nassar was also the team doctor at USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. The organization has become entangled in the case, and its involvement was rendered all the more suspect after members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, known as the “Fierce Five,” came out publicly with allegations of sexual abuse. Perhaps most notably, one of the accusers, Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, said she was paid off by USA Gymnastics for her silence. Now many of the over 140 accusers are suing the organization for failing to protect their athletes.
Friday was the fourth consecutive day of Nassar’s sentencing hearing where victims delivered impact statements. Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber told the court, “Even though I’m a victim, I do not and will not live my life as one.” She went on to say, “I’m an Olympian despite being abused. I worked hard and managed to achieve my goal. But I want everyone—especially the media—to know that despite my athletic achievements I am one of over 140 women and survivors whose story is important.”
Last year, The Indianapolis Star reported on how Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics mishandled complaints regarding sexual misconduct involving coaches and doctors. The story prompted victims to step forward and the criminal case against Nassar quickly followed. Attorney John Manly, who represents more than 100 of the accusers says that Michigan State, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic Committee “miserably failed children.” Manly also compared Nassar’s crimes to the notorious Penn State scandal.