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Nassar survivors facing more unwarranted criticism after award announcement

Asher Fair
310   //    17 May 2018, 14:23 IST

2012 Summer Olympics - Day 4
From left: Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England

After it was announced by ESPN that the sexual assault survivors who spoke out against Larry Nassar would be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year's ESPY Awards show on Wednesday, July 18 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, the criticism of these survivors began to pervade social media once again as it has quite frequently in recent months.

Nassar is the 54-year-old disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician who has been accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of people, mostly female gymnasts, under the guise of medical treatment for roughly two decades.

He is currently serving the 60-year federal prison sentence that he was given in December on three child pornography charges, and he is doing so at the maximum-security United States Penitentiary, Tucson in Tucson, Arizona.

He was also sentenced in January to between 40 and 175 years in state prison on seven sexual assault charges after a seven-day sentencing hearing during which 156 of the people he sexually assaulted and 169 people in total delivered victim impact statements in an Ingham County, Michigan courtroom in front of him.

Nassar was sentenced to between an additional 40 and 125 years in state prison on three more sexual assault charges in February after another lengthy sentencing hearing took place in an Eaton County, Michigan courtroom during which more than 60 people delivered victim impact statements in front of him as well.

However, even with all of that in mind, some people unfortunately still feel that the people he sexually assaulted deserve more criticism than he and his protectors, defenders and enablers, including USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, do.

Here is ESPN's Facebook post regarding the survivors being set to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in July.

Here are some of the comments on this Facebook post and my explanations as to why this criticism is unwarranted.

"They should start a movement called #ThemToo instead of #MeToo. Because as we all know # means pound. In essence that’s what they all allowed to happen to the victims after them by staying quiet for years. They enabled others to be violated."

We know for a fact that Nassar's sexual assault was brought to the attention of many people going all the way back to 1997 when gymnast Larissa Boyce told Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages about it. Instead, of acting on this information, Klages threatened Boyce. The people Nassar sexually assaulted are not the enablers here.

In 1998, Michigan State softball player Tiffany Lopez reported to her trainers that Nassar had sexually assaulted her. Just as the case was with Boyce the year prior, no action was taken as a result of these claims.

In 2011, former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney talked about the fact that Nassar had sexually assaulted her. Coach John Geddert was in the car when Maroney revealed this, as were several of her teammates. Geddert, who in several others instances was told by gymnasts' parents about what Nassar was doing and failed to act responsibly, did nothing as a result of Maroney's claims, either.

In 2014, Michigan State's Title IX Department investigated Nassar as a result of sexual assault allegations against him made by Amanda Thomashow, but they cleared him of all wrongdoing and told Thomashow that she did not know the different between sexual assault and a legitimate medical procedure.

Meanwhile, he remained under police investigation, yet Michigan State allowed him to continue treating, and thus sexually assaulting, his patients.

In 2015, Maggie Nichols became the first person to officially report that Nassar had sexually assaulted her to USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics failed to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and instead hired a private investigator named Fran Sepler.

Nichols was not interviewed until three weeks later, and USA Gymnastics did not notify the FBI about her accusations against Nassar until after Maroney and fellow Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman informed them that Nassar had sexually assaulted them as well.

USA Gymnastics ended up not notifying the FBI of these accusations until five weeks after Nichols first reported that Nassar had sexually assaulted her. The FBI then proceeded to take over a year to actually pursue the case, during which time dozens of others claim that they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.

These instances barely scrape the surface of who knew what but failed to act. The idea of Nassar's victims being his "enablers" is completely invalid.

"They enjoyed it!"

Chelsea Markham committed suicide. Kyle Stephens' father did the same after he realized that she wasn't lying to him after accusing her of doing so. McKayla Maroney was depressed and suicidal. Aly Raisman was taken to the hospital after suffering an attack from her anxiety medication that she had to be on as a result of what happened to her.

I won't continue. That's just the tip of the iceberg. As far as my response to this ignorant comment, some things are simply better left unsaid.

"500 million reasons why"
"Millions of dollars and awards. The American dream"
"They got paid handsomely thats enough"
"Money money"

It was inevitable, wasn't it? Of course, there are the people who think this is all about money, when in reality, they are the ones who see the monetary aspect and only the monetary aspect of the fallout from this scandal, not the survivors.

Yes, there is money involved, as there should be. Several people and institutions failed to act on information that they had that could have stopped Nassar decades sooner, so in order for justice to be served and in order for there to be accountability, the survivors have every right to sue these people and institutions.

Saying that this is all about the money is effectively stating that Nassar didn't sexually assault anybody and the whole thing is fabricated, which was know for a fact is not true. It is about so much more than money, as we have seen time and time again in recent months.

Saying that it is all about money from the standpoint of the survivors is also like saying that the money that the institutions which protected, defended and enabled Nassar's predatory behavior made off of the success of the survivors at the expense of those same survivors rightfully belongs to those institutions.

Why should these institutions be entitled to the money that they made because of the success of the survivors when they failed to prevent the survivors from being forced to endure sexual assault at the hands of Nassar despite the fact that they had numerous chances to do so over the course of roughly two decades?

If anyone believes that it is "all about the money", it is. But it is not "all about the money" from the standpoint of the survivors. It is "all about the money" from the standpoint of the institutions that protected, defended and enabled Nassar's predatory behavior.

"Um why?"
"This is so stupid."
"Spare me."
"Really? K."
"No one cares"

Why? Because they deserve the award for their courage and bravery in stopping the worst serial sexual predator in sports history.

No, it isn't stupid that the people courageous enough to not be silent and stand up and stop the worst serial sexual predator in sports history are being awarded with an award for courage.

If you want to be spared, don't watch. It will literally affect nothing in regard to the award being given.

Yes, really. Given what the survivors have done, it shouldn't really be a surprise that they are getting this award.

Millions of people care, and thank goodness, because at first, this scandal was not getting nearly the amount of coverage that it deserved. People need to be aware of this issue, and the attention that this scandal has gotten recently has ensured that they are. You still not caring despite this fact is a bad look for yourself. It has nothing to do with anybody else caring, which many do.

" 'Survivors' "
" 'Survivors' you say??..."

It says a lot about people when they are more upset that the word "survivor" is used to describe the people who Nassar sexually assaulted as opposed to the word "victim" than they are about the actual sexual assault itself and the fallout that comes with it.

The people who came forward with accusations against Nassar are considered survivors due to the fact that they do, in fact, fit the definition of the word "survivor", which is defined as "a person who survives and/or continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship or setbacks" according to

They are also considered survivors because the word "victim" ties them to Nassar, as they would be considered "Nassar's victims", whereas the word "survivor" illustrates that they are bouncing back and moving forward with their lives despite the fact that they were forced to endure sexual assault at Nassar's hands.

As survivors, this sexual assault does not define them. They could very easily consider themselves victims given the fact that they were forced to go through what they went through. They have been through a lot.

We live in a world where it has become increasingly easy to offend people and for people to play the victim no matter how small the issue is. Yet these people have been faced with legitimately harsh circumstances, and they will not even consider themselves victims, as they do not want to be defined by what has happened to them. They are stronger than that.

The fact that people have an issue with the word "survivor" being used shows that they will literally find anything to complain about. It is a shame that this is the case, but this whole scandal has illustrated perhaps better than anything in recent history that this is, in fact, the case.

At the end of the day, there is still far too much criticism being directed at the survivors of Nassar's sexual assault, and people will jump at every opportunity they can just to criticize them. Yet another situation, this one involving the fact that the survivors are being given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, illustrates that this is unfortunately still the case. Maybe one day it will change.