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The story of the horror doctor who will die in prison: Larry Nassar, the sexual abuser who marked the lives of 300 athletes

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Larry Nassar was the physician of the American Olympic gymnastics team for two decades
Larry Nassar was the physician of the American Olympic gymnastics team for two decades

A girl comes into his office with a pain in his back and legs. The doctor, with a gentle gesture, a friendly character and with his classic glasses, waits for her to treat her. First he asks her to lie down on the table. Then, he asks her to stay as relaxed as possible so that her intervention has the necessary effect. And so, minutes later, after working in the affected area, the specialist gropes the young woman's genitals who, incredulous, thinks that the doctor's move is part of the treatment to make her feel better.

That image was repeated a thousand times in the office of Larry nassar, the medical coordinator of the United States women's gymnastics team for 20 years that transformed over time into a serial sex offender that attacked more than 300 athletes. Central protagonist of the scandal that shook the American Olympic sport a few days after the end of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, life for this predator is judged.

On January 24, 2018, in the Michigan Court where he was accused of perpetrating hundreds of abuses and having in his possession more than 35,000 files of child movieography, Nassar succumbed to the allegations of the 156 victims that they had the courage to face it and many tell, face to face, how they suffered before the assault of a depraved person who marked their lives.

That winter afternoon, Rosemarie Aquilina was in charge of putting into words the sentiment of all the abused women who witnessed her final speech. And also that of many who could not approach the court and the rest who still could not make their history of suffering public at the hands of the sexual offender. "It is my honor and privilege to sentence him because he never deserves to walk outside of a prison. He did nothing to control what you felt, "said the judge, who ended her brief speech with words that forever marked a macabre story that lasted for decades thanks to the negligence of the sports leadership that endorsed the mistreatment.

Judge Aquilina at the time of sentencing Nassar (REUTERS)
Judge Aquilina at the time of sentencing Nassar (REUTERS)

"I just signed your death warrant", was the phrase of the woman who delivered justice against Nassar and his abuses. Today, more than two years after the sentence that will keep him at least for 40 years and with a maximum of 175 years in prison, the famous Larry knows that his life will go out behind bars. Nothing will change this situation. His stigma doomed him forever.

Beyond that the sentence against the doctor gave a partial closure to the story, the end is not yet written. The path that began with the newspaper's investigation Indianapolis Star through the testimony of Rachael Denhollander In 2016, the first woman to speak out about Nassar's abuses in a statement that served as the basis for the rest of the abused gymnasts to confront, forever changed the internal gaze on discipline on U.S. soil. But it also acted as a beacon to illuminate the negative methods in the practice of a sport that was always considered one of the hardest and most tiring for athletes who do it.

Lawrence Gerard, better known as Larry, was born on August 16, 1963 in Farmington Hills, a small town located in the southeastern state of Michigan. Son of Fred and Mary, Nassar's life was always linked to sports. At age 15 he began working with gymnasts when he studied to be a track coach at a high school in the Detroit suburbs. As early as 1986, once he graduated from college with a kinesiologist degree, he joined the medical staff of the national gymnastic team as an athletic trainer.

After spending several years as part of the Wayne University sports program, he finally returned to Michigan to join medical school. In 93, Nassar received an osteopathic doctor, decisive sign to become the head of the medical team of USA Gymnastics way to Atlanta 96, those that were his first Olympic Games in charge of the care of the team. There he can be seen containing Kerri Strug, the athlete whom Romanian coach Bela Karolyi forced to jump for the United States to win the team gold in the presence of more than 15 thousand souls at the headquarters of the Olympic gymnastics.

So it was that, while Nassar was escalating in consideration within the elite of American sports, this sexual predator also preyed on girls in his university office or with friends in his private life. As recorded in court records against the figure of the doctor, this specialist in the recovery of athletes also sexually abused a girl from 6 years old, daughter of a friendly couple.

In the documentary produced by HBO "At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal", directed by Erin Lee Carr and which premiered in April 2019, there is a fragment dedicated to this case. In the final sequence of the film the story of Kyle Stephens, the little girl who had nothing to do with sports and also suffered the abuse of Larry Nassar. The story tells that, while the little girl's parents cooked, the degenerate offered to "entertain" Stephens and his brother in the basement of the house, a place that he used to separate the little ones with games so they could masturbate in front of the girl.

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According to the documentary, on another occasion, the doctor abused Stephens while the whole family, including the close friend of the couple, watched television. As it did? He teased her under a blanket while everyone was sitting on the living room sofa. After six years, when the young woman was already a teenager, He told his parents about the horrors that Nassar suffered, but they did not believe him.. It's more, Stephens was required to apologize to the doctor, which caused, over time, the girl to move away from her family.

Nassar was sentenced to spend the rest of his days in jail (Dale G. Young / Detroit News via AP)
Nassar was sentenced to spend the rest of his days in jail (Dale G. Young / Detroit News via AP)

But it was in 2016, once Stephens read Denhollander's story in the media that uncovered Nassar's abuse scandal in American gymnastics, that the already-adult woman contacted the Michigan police, allowing law enforcement Security were able to request a search warrant to enter the abuser's home. It was in that search that they found the thousands of files with child movieography discarded on various hard drives that were in the garbage cans at the door of the abusing doctor's home.

In the past few weeks, another documentary has put the Nassar case back at the center of public opinion. Athlete A, produced by Netflix, tells the story of doctor abuse from the experience of a rising gymnastics star, called to be the perfect match for Simone Biles, the most awarded athlete in the discipline's World Cups and four-time Olympic champion in Rio 2016, who denounced the team's medical manager in 2015, just before the first Olympic Games held in South America.

Maggie Nichols, abused by the doctor, was submitted by USA Gymnastics. They made her shut up. The same happened with his parents, who found in the then president of the federation, Steve Penny, a central figure in the role of hiding the multiple cases of sexual assault that Nassar perpetrated. Something similar to what happened with the top managers of the women's team, the Karolyi marriage.

Nichols' testimony became a key chapter in understanding the plot that Nassar was promoting in the Ranch, the training center that Romanian coaches forged in Texas and that was one of the places where the osteopath took advantage of to abuse athletes who were tired of the mistreatment and the terrible relationship that they generated towards their clients. It was there that the doctor began to base part of his treatment on an action that seemed part of the routine, but which was only intended to make a sexual assault: this is how he presented "The intravaginal adjustment", a method that consisted of penetrating with the fingers in the vaginas of the young women to "improve" their ailments in the pelvic area.

Larry Nassar's hands will never again abuse a young woman (Scott Olson / AFP)
Larry Nassar's hands will never again abuse a young woman (Scott Olson / AFP)

Once Larry Nassar's name went from that of a respected professional in the world of sports medicine, recognized for being a key player in the recovery of the best female team of gymnasts in the world, being associated with that of a sexual predator who marked the lives of more than 300 athletes, his life is finished falling apart. His wife and mother of their three children, Stephanie, filed for divorce on January 25, 2017. It was granted in the following six months, long before that day where he was sentenced to die in prison. The small fruits of the marriage, Katelyn, Caroline and Ryan, remained in the custody of their mother. None of the four witnessed any of the trial sessions against him..

Today, at 56, Nassar was singled out as an essential part of an abusive system that forever marked the United States' Olympic sports car. More than 100 athletes, including Biles herself, signed a lawsuit against the federation for the abuse cases. And as that cause runs its course, in Michigan, the home where horror was born, the story unveiled a new lead. Kathie Klages, a former coach of the Michigan State University women's team, was found guilty on two counts of lie to the police and sentenced to serve up to four years in prison for denying in 2018 that the team's gymnasts had been attacked by the doctor who is destined to die in the darkness of his cell.

MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC:

They trained Nadia Comaneci, created a culture of fear in the US gymnastics, and denied sexual abuse: glory and fall of the Karolyi marriage

Simone Biles spoke about Larry Nassar's sexual abuse: "I slept a lot, it was the closest thing to death without harming me"

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Lisa Durant

Lisa has been a freelance journalist who has worked for various print magazine online. After years of spent working in the field of journalism, she took a plunge and founded Asap Land sharing the latest news bulletins from the field of Business and Technology as well as general headlines. She writes mostly the General US Headlines and Business News.

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