The Nassar sentencing began one year ago today. Here's what's happened since. | Michigan Radio
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The Nassar sentencing began one year ago today. Here's what's happened since.

Jan 16, 2019

On this day last year, Kyle Stephens stood before Larry Nassar in an Ingham County courtroom and told him, "Little girls don't stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world."

In the year since the sentencing, nearly five hundred women and girls have come forward as survivors of Nassar's abuse. The president of Michigan State University resigned, as did the entire USA Gymnastics board. The survivors were honored with the ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and many have become advocates for victims of abuse.

Even still, the fallout from the Nassar scandal continues. Today, interim Michigan State University president John Engler resigned.

The largest sexual abuse scandal in sports history

When Kyle Stephens gave her victim impact statement on January 16, 2018, it was expected that 88 survivors would speak.

By the end of the two sentencing hearings, 204 women and girls had given statements. And more continue to come forward. The latest estimate puts the number at approximately 500 survivors.

Listen now: Believed, from Michigan Radio and NPR, looks at how a team of women won justice in one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history

Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years for criminal sexual abuse, on top of a 60 year federal sentence for child pornography.
Credit Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

That number of victims is unparalled, and shook the gymnastics world. The entire board of USA Gymnastics resigned soon after the sentencing, and the organization has gone through three CEOs since the Nassar allegations came out in 2016. USAG has also filed for bankruptcy, and the U.S. Olympic Committee has moved to revoke the organization's role as the sports governing body.

MSU in chaos

Michigan State University has been in crisis mode since before the sentencing began, when survivors started criticizing the school for not properly responding to the Nassar scandal. 

Those complaints have not ceased, and the fallout has only worsened for the university.

Lou Anna Simon resigned as MSU's president in January, and is now facing felony and misdemeanor charges surrounding her involvement with the school’s handling of Nassar.

The school's interim president for the past year, John Engler, has been a constant source of controversy himself. Engler has made numerous comments throughout the past year that have insulted Nassar survivors, including this past week when he told the Detroit News that survivors were "enjoying the spotlight."

Other MSU officials that have stepped down in the wake of the Nassar scandal include former athletic director Mark Hollis and former alumni director Scott Westerman. Some are also facing criminal charges, including former gymnastics coach Kathy Klages and William Strampel, former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Nassar's former boss. 

Numerous investigations into the university are underway, including one by the Michigan Attorney General's Office. A recent report from the AG's Office describes describes "a culture of indifference and institutional protection" at MSU when it came to reports of Nassar's abuse.

In May, MSU reached a $500 million settlement with the Nassar survivors.

Survivors become advocates

Despite the pain the Nassar scandal brought to hundreds of women, many have turned their experiences into a platform for social justice.

Over 200 survivors gave victim impact statements over the two sentencing hearings.
Credit Jodi Westrick and Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

This summer, the Nassar survivors were presented with the ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to come forward, was given Sports Illustrated's Inspiration of the Year Award.

Survivors continue to protest MSU board meetings, and many continue to call for the resignation of the entire board of trustees as well as interim president Engler. 

Others are working with local, state, and federal government to ensure another predator like Larry Nassar does not get away with decades of abuse.

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