Larry Nassar and those who looked the other way

Now we know Larry Nassar.

We even know what he did.

But when we listen to the depositions and accusations from his victims, we believe the people, but sometimes have trouble digesting the words. They seem to exist in some other world or some nether region that we are loath to inhabit. His actions—so horrific, so despicable—make us wonder to what depth can human behavior sink?

Larry Nassar will never walk the earth as a free man again, a fact that will neither undo his damage nor free his victims from their torment. Still, it’s reassuring to the unaffected observers like you and me. How “good” his victims feel is another matter.

But Dr. Nassar he did not work in a vacuum. As we learned in the Penn State trial of Jerry Sandusky, these deviants always acquire a coterie of enablers, people who choose to win at all costs when the alternative is the possibility of losing and protecting the humanity of individuals. Nassar preyed upon that maniacal desire for Olympic gold; now his victims pay the price forever.

Today three members of USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the Olympic sport, resigned under pressure. Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder, and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley stepped down nearly ten months after former president and chief executive Steve Penny was pushed out. I listed their names because they should be noted.

John Manly, an attorney representing more than 100 of Nassar’s accusers, said that while he welcomed the resignations, the entire board needs to be reconstituted. “Until that happens, this move is simply a public relations ploy to save a sinking ship of an organization.”

A year ago USA Gymnastics failed even to show up at a Congressional hearing into its handling of sexual abuse allegations. At the time Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. assailed them for sending a statement but no witness to question. There is no escaping this time.

The judge in the current trial, Rosemarie Aquilina, went so far as to inform Nassar that, although the Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, she would be willing to subject him to the same torment if she could.

She can’t, and I’m glad we live in a country where vengeance and reprisal are not allowed, but I’m also glad that the people who enabled him and supported him and looked the other way while he abused hundreds of young women can never again rest easy at night. They know what they did, and now —though it is too late for the victims—so do we.

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