Nassar ‘death warrant’ puts abusers, enablers on notice

Michigan Circuit Court Judge Rosemary E. Aquilina spared no mercy and minced no words Wednesday in her tongue-lashing of Larry Nassar, a once revered Olympics doctor now forever banished to the ash heap of sports history as a serial abuser of children.

“Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable,” the judge said, facing Nassar in a Lansing courtroom. “It was my honor and privilege to sentence you, because, sir, you do not deserve to ever walk outside a prison ever again. I’ve just signed your death warrant.”

Nassar’s punishment of 40 to 175 years in prison, on top of a previous 60-year sentence on child pornography charges, is richly deserved.

Let that harsh punishment serve as a cautionary tale to other would-be child molesters and any and all of their misguided enablers and co-conspirators, of which there were many in the Nassar case.


Nassar was named in hundreds of lawsuits filed by talented gymnasts – some as young as 6 – who alleged that he had sexually abused them under the pretense of giving them medical treatment. Since the first public allegations were made in September 2016, more than140 girls and women, including former USA Gymnastics national team members Jamie Dantzscher, Jeanette Antolin, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, have accused Nassar of using his position of power and prestige to ply his demented trade.

Many of them courageously faced their monster head-on in the courtroom. They are to be commended for publicly reliving their horrors in an effort to impress upon Nassar the depths of his depravity.

Sadly, Nassar did not express any genuine remorse, arguing in a letter to the judge that many of the young women respected him but were manipulated by overzealous prosecutors and the news media.

One of those victims reminded all that Nassar was not alone in allowing the string of assaults to continue.

“[Nassar] is not the only one that allowed this to happen,” said Jessica Smith, who said the sports doctor assaulted her when she was 17. “Where is the justice being served for everyone that allowed that to happen?”

That is a good question for the many parties who essentially turned a blind eye to the doctor’s demented behavior.

Among them is USA Gymnastics. Investigations have found that its board had ignored or covered up allegations of abuse by Nassar and other coaches for years.

Elsewhere, Wednesday’s resignation of Lou Anna Simon as president of Michigan State University resulted from mounting pressure on the university where Nassar was employed. The Detroit News had found 14 university officials were told of Nassar’s sexual misconduct for more than two decades with no follow-up.

The NCAA should consider sanctions against the university akin to those leveled against Penn State University in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The list of alleged victims at MSU is three times longer than that at PSU.

Meanwhile, athletic officials at all levels of play should take heed of the ongoing fallout from the Nassar scandal. Failure to vigorously and rapidly respond to credible reports of abuse will not only subject athletes to long-term harm, it will eventually come back to cast deep stains on those same officials and the proud institutions they represent.

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