Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Larry Nassar Scandal: Sports Institutions Failed to Protect Athletes (VIDEO)

Parents, don't leave it to money-hungry, evil and corrupt institutions, like the USOC, to protect your child athletes.

Wow, what a commentary, from Bill Plaschke, at the Los Angeles Times, "Parents of young athletes must face the disturbing truth in light of Larry Nassar's crimes":
The horror on display for the past week in Courtroom 5 of the Ingham County Courthouse in Lansing, Mich., marks the largest sexual assault scandal in this country's history and maybe the most tragic youth sports story ever.

It's the story of nearly 200 females, mostly athletes, including Olympic gold-medal gymnasts, who were molested during examinations by Nassar over the past two decades while he was a USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician.

It's the story of parents continually trusting a sports system that failed them at every level, from the lowliest Michigan State coach to the vaunted USOC.

Nassar, 54, has been sentenced for 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. He also pleaded guilty to 10 sexual assault charges for which he will be sentenced on Wednesday.

As part of the plea deal, Nassar's victims have been allowed to confront him in court — 177 of them have so far, powerful women and girls facing their demon and firing back with strength and inspiration.

They've cried, they've cursed, and some have nearly collapsed, as they've all powerfully given witness to the pain of assault and the will to endure.

Videos of their testimony are all over the internet and parents should watch. That could have been your child. It could have been my child.

Athlete after athlete told stories of being ordered to visit Nassar by a coach, often without a parent present. During what he called treatment, he would vaginally or anally penetrate them for as long as 20 to 40 minutes. When they complained, they were told they didn't understand medicine or were otherwise shushed. Until now.

"Little girls don't stay little forever,'' said Kyle Stephens, the first victim to testify last week, looking directly in Nassar's face as the doctor hid behind his hands. "They grow into strong women who return to destroy your world.''

Mattie Larson, one of the last women to testify, spoke of being molested at the Karolyi Ranch, the former cathedral of USA Gymnastics. The ranch is located in the woods outside Houston, where cell phone service is sketchy and parents weren't allowed. She also described being molested in Minnesota at her first national championships, penetrated by the doctor even with a USA Gymnastics trainer in the same room.

"Larry, you were the only one I trusted,'' she said. "In the end, you turned out to be the scariest monster of all."

The issue of trust has been a recurring theme. The athletes and their parents had to trust a system that churned out Olympians. Or they had to trust the university if they wanted to compete in college. And that gave Nassar his opportunity.

Anne Swinehart, whose daughter Jillian was abused when she was 8, spoke for many of the tortured parents when she said, "To think I let this happen to my child when I was sitting right there…''

This could happen to any of us with children in sports, right? We hand them over to strangers with no questions asked. We send them to distant backyards for pitching lessons, to desolate ice rinks for early-morning skating practice, and we walk away for hours or even entire weekends.

And when some sports authority tells us our child has potential but needs a private therapy session with a team doctor, we're not skeptical, we're thankful for the attention.

In this case, only too late did the parents realize that even the biggest and brightest of sports institutions care mostly about themselves.

Nassar worked for Michigan State, and at least 14 staffers and school representatives reportedly knew about his abuse for more than 20 years. Yet, even when Nassar was finally the subject of Title IX and campus police investigations in 2014, school president Lou Anna Simon didn't even look at the reports, and at least 12 more assaults occurred before the doctor was fired.

Michigan State did worse than ignore Nassar; it enabled him. The school even continued to charge women for sessions in which he was accused of molesting them.

"My mom is still getting billed for appointments where I was sexually assaulted,'' Emma Ann Miller, 15, said in court this week, before the university finally stopped halted its billing.

This scandal is, by numbers, larger than the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case that cleaned out Penn State's president, athletic director and legendary football coach. So how does MSU president Simon keep her job? In one of the most sickening statements in a case full of them, trustee Joel Ferguson said during a radio interview, "There's so many more things going on at this university than just this Nassar thing. … I mean, when you go to the basketball game, you walk into the new Breslin [Center] and the person who hustled and got all those major donors to give money was Lou Anna Simon.'

'For Ferguson's Michigan State, it seems that money trumps morality. Listening to the gymnasts, the same philosophy was followed by USA Gymnastics in the pursuit of Olympic gold...