American Gymnasts Speak Out Against Abuse

Jaclyn Narleski ‘20

With the start of 2018, the movement against sexual misconduct continues to grow and spread in the public eye.  A glaring example of individuals taking the brave step forward and speaking out for this movement would be former and current members of the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team.  Their accusations of sexual assault are aimed towards Larry Nassar, the former physician of USA Gymnastics.

The week of January 15th brought Nassar’s case to court, where 156 victims spoke of their memories of abuse.  Notable gymnasts included Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Jamie Dantzscher, Jeannette Antolin, Jessica Howard, Gabby Douglas, and most recently Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber, all of whom competed in the Olympics in the past three decades [1].  While Maroney chose not to speak in person, the rest stepped forward to deliver their experiences.  Each described how they were “unaware” and “would have never imagined that a doctor would abuse them” since they were young and Nassar insisted his abuse were “treatments” for back and hip pain [2].  These young women suffered through years of uneasiness and feared voicing their doubts of Nassar’s actions, but the testimonies, along with their ability to step forward as a united front and retell their horrific experiences with the aims of receiving justice and ensuring that no gymnast ever has to go through the same experience.

Nassar has already pleaded guilty to “ten counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with victims as young as six years old” and federal child pornagraphy charges, and faces 60 years in prison [3].  However, he cannot start his prison sentence until his 175 year sentence for the hundreds of lawsuits filed against him has also been carried out.  Essentially, Nassar’s actions have given him a death warrant [2].

The movement against sexual assault, also known as the #MeToo movement, has especially spread on social media during the new year.  It encourages both men and women of all ages to speak out against sexual violence and unite in solidarity. Hopefully, no student at Ridge has ever experienced such abuse, but spreading #MeToo throughout Ridge will help to create an informed student body wishing to resolve the vices of society.