What Dr. Nassar’s Case Says About American Culture


On January 24, the world watched as Dr. Larry Nassar, former sports physician for America’s Olympic women and Michigan State University, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. The reason for this? He was found guilty of sexually abusing over 200 women for decades during his career (cnn.com).

The judge for the case, Rosemarie Aquilina, read out loud pieces of Nassar’s letter, including this one:

“I was a good doctor because my treatments worked, and those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over,” Nassar wrote. “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 scorned.”

The courtroom was filled with the sound of gasps and disbelief, as Aquilina tossed the paper out of eye sight and said, “The letter tells me you don’t get it” (cnn.com).

It wasn’t until Rachael Denhollander, former patient of Nassar, filed a police report last August that questions began to publicly stir and serious investigations took place. But the main question that now arises is how was Nassar able to continue his practice for decades? To put it simply, because of our culture.

Women and men alike have been silenced in the fear of what society will think if they speak out about their assault. According to RAINN, every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. But the grim statistic that follows, only 6 out of a 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison (rainn.org).

Of those sexually abused, there are over 60 million survivors of childhood abuse, with 90% of those victims never filing a report to law enforcement and 30% never even mentioning the encounter to another individual (National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children).

What this case has done for women not just in America but all over the world has given them the power to know that their voice can and will be heard. 158 brave women took to the podium during Nassar’s trial to speak about their assault, and share their story. After being silenced for months, years, and even decades, these victims finally were able to face their assaulter and step away from the podium knowing that justice has been served — that they never have to fear to be in his control again.

In an article posted by The New York Times, Denhollander wrote, “The first step toward changing the culture that led to this atrocity is to hold enablers of abuse accountable. There is much that needs to be done legislatively, including extending or removing the statute of limitations on criminal and civil charges related to sexual assault, and strengthening mandatory reporting laws and ensuring truth in sentencing, so that dangerous offenders are not released early to damage more children.”

It is time offenders finally get the justice they deserve.