By Angela Tooley
156 women testified. 156 deeply moving statements each made by a victim of Larry Nassar’s abuse during a week-long sentencing hearing.
The victims have become survivors, and each seeks to heal. Each one was not only abused, but each was betrayed by institutions thought to be places of trust and safety. Each will have to find courage to trust again.
USA Gymnastics will never be the same and for that matter all sports should go through an intense self-examination. Likewise, Michigan State will face painful consequences for protecting their self-interest ahead of their students.
Accusations were ignored because addressing them meant a loss of status to a program. Accusations were dismissed or denied because the predator gave convincing justifications to reassure questioning authorities. Despite what was seen and heard from accusers, no one in authority took action.
Predators exist among us in unassuming ways. As a predator grooms victims, they also groom their enablers. Predators are manipulators and even a passed background check allows a false sense of security.
Survivor Annie Labrie said in her impact statement, “a pedophile cannot flourish in the way Larry did in an environment that is not conducive to his behavior. He was prolific because surrounding authorities allowed him to be.”
No matter what our role is in a youth’s life – as a teacher, coach, minister, parent or just as a responsible adult we are expected to be vigilant in protecting them. Our responsibility is to act when danger is present or even suspected.
We protect when we:
Remember the adage – Where there’s smoke there’s fire?
If we saw smoke in our house we would never ignore it, thinking that fire wasn’t present. We would look for the source of the smoke.
As smoke fills the house, we would never ignore it thinking that it wasn’t there.
Nor would we sit still and not seek safety or call for help from the fire department.
We would not rationalize, deny or justify our inaction.
No, we would act.
That is trust worthy – and noble.
Levenson, E. (2018, February 5). Larry Nassar apologizes, gets 40 to 125 years for decades of sexual abuse. Retrieved from CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/05/us/larry-nassar-sentence-eaton/index.html