Throughout the course of the past few months, it seemed like everyday there was a new sexual assault or sexual misconduct headline, ranging from politicians to television hosts to actors to doctors. Punishments such as losing a job accompanied by a few quotes from victims plastered across the television screen seemed to be the norm, almost numbing society to the epidemic.
However, one of these headlines leads us to a story that is impossible to ignore, the case of Larry Nassar. Nassar, a world-renowned sports doctor best known for his work with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State, abused more than 150 girls and women over the course of 25 years. He has been sentenced to 175 years in prison.
The hearings have been not only emotional, but impactful, with over 150 victims recounting their experiences with Nassar and the ways in which the legal system had failed them. In following this trial, I have decided on three unforgettable moments:
1) Aly Raisman’s statements
It wasn’t just her words, it was the way she delivered those words that cut right through to the core of anyone listening.
“Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice and I am only beginning to just use them. All these brave women have power and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve — a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.”
Her statement embodied the thoughts and feelings of all of his victims and showed a united front, one that ultimately defeated evil and prompted change.
2) Judge Rosemarie Aquilina
There is no denying that there is something special about this judge. In order to understand her a bit further, I looked up her background. The judge joined the military and served for 12 years, becoming the first female Judge Advocate General in the Michigan Army National Guard and earning the nickname “Barracuda Aquilina.” She also has five children, which could serve as part of an explanation as to why she took the time to listen to every single victims’ statements and held back nothing in sentencing Nassar.
The judge’s sentencing and attitude towards both Nassar and the victims made her the perfect judge for this case. As much as she was a judge during this case, she was also an advocate for the victims, which I believe allowed all of Nassar’s actions which had been shielded for so long to be fully recognized, understood, and properly punished.
All of this being said, this judge can be summed up in one moment. The moment she took a letter Nassar wrote defending himself and tossed it to the side, perfectly symbolic of the trash that the letter represented.
3) Randall Margraves, father of victim, tried to attack Nassar during his hearing.
I think this is the moment that all of the rage accumulated during this trial came to fruition. I think the only thing worse than being a victim in this situation is being a father of a victim. As a dad, you drop your daughter off at practice or a doctor’s appointment and pick her up expecting the adults who coach or treat your daughter act appropriately, because generally that is what happens. Margraves first asked the judge to give him a minute alone with Nassar, but when he was denied sprung forward in rage at the doctor.
Last night, it was decided that Margraves would not be charged for contempt. In most other situations, I’m sure such actions in a court room would be punishable.
While it is heartbreaking that these moments had to occur, there is one positive to take away from this: Change. Lawmakers have drafted up a bill that includes a uniform national standard that would apply to amateur sports groups (USA Gymnastics) and other organizations in which a failure to report a sexual abuse allegation could lead to up to one year in prison. It also extends the statute of limitations- recognizing young children do not realize the nature of abuse until years later. Hopefully, this situation can be forever avoided.