The Larry Nassar Case: A Brief Summary


Nellie Shih ’19, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Warning: mentions of sexual abuse and suicide. 


            Larry Nassar, former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics national doctor has been sentenced to at least 100 years in prison. Nassar has plead guilty to possession of child pornography and to seven counts of sexual assault of minors. MSU and USA Gymnastics have been accused in lawsuits of failure to report claims of abuse of several athletes by Nassar. Athletes who have come forward with accounts of abuse include Larissa Boyce, Kyle Stephens, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, and Simone Biles.

            In 1997, 16-year-old Larissa Boyce and an anonymous 14-year-old girl reported to their coach, Kathie Klages, that they were uncomfortable with Nassar’s actions at an appointment. Klages, who has retired, told the girls they had misunderstood what Nassar had done. Boyce has said if Klages had reported the complaint, two decades of abuse could have been avoided. “Instead of being protected, I was humiliated and told that I was the problem,” said Boyce.

            Kyle Stephens, who was 12 in 2004, told her MSU psychologist, Dr. Gary Stollak, that Nassar had been molesting her since she was six. Rather than reporting the allegation, Stollak arranged a meeting between Nassar and Stephens’s parents. “My parents chose to believe Larry Nassar over me,” said Stephens at Nassar’s hearing. Stephens believes her father’s guilt over not believing her pushed him to take his own life in 2016. Stollak suffered a stroke after retiring from MSU and has said he suffers from memory loss and does not remember the event.

            When Maggie Nichols was overheard talking to another gymnast about Nassar’s treatment in 2015, her coach reported it to officials at USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics did not inform law enforcement, and instead hired a private investigator who interviewed Nichols, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney. USA Gymnastics contacted the FBI five weeks after the initial report. USA Gymnastics fired Nassar, but did not notify MSU he was under investigation, claiming he had interpreted the FBI’s request not to interfere to mean he shouldn’t alert a major educational institution where Nassar was still working at the time.

            Maroney has accused USA Gymnastics of covering up the sexual abuse by forcing her to sign a $1.25 million confidentially agreement. USA Gymnastics waived the agreement during the hearing to allow Maroney to make a statement in court. Maroney filed a suit against USA Gymnastics, alleging the confidentiality agreement was forced upon her so that “USAG could further conceal and shield from public scrutiny, outside investigation, and law enforcement, the true nature of Nassar’s horrific sexual abuse of minors.” Maroney continued, stating USAG had “a plan to keep the sexual abuse of Nassar quiet, and allow Nassar to quietly leave USAG; further silencing his victims.” According to her suit, Maroney entered the settlement to “obtain funds necessary to pay for lifesaving psychological treatment and care.”

            More than 250 women have come forward to accuse Nassar of abuse. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina allowed testimony from victims during Nassar’s trial. Out of the 156 women who testified, Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault, was the last to stand in court and deliver her testimony:

This is what it looks like. It looks like a courtroom full of survivors who carry deep wounds. Women and girls who have banded together to fight for themselves because no one else would do it. Women and girls who carry scars that will never fully heal but who have made the choice to place the guilt and shame on the only person to whom it belongs, the abuser. But may the horror expressed in this courtroom over the last seven days be motivation for anyone and everyone no matter the context to take responsibility if they have failed in protecting a child, to understand the incredible failures that led to this week and to do it better the next time.

Judge Aquilina, I plead with you as you deliberate the sentence to give Larry, send a message that these victims are worth everything. In order to meet both the goals of this court. I plead with you to impose the maximum sentence under the plea agreement because everything is what these survivors are worth. Thank you.

            MSU’s President has resigned and USA gymnastics is replacing its Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Treasurer. Twistars Gymnastics Club, the training facility that referred athletes to Nassar, and the US Olympic Committee have been named as co-defendants in over 150 lawsuits filed in Michigan and California.