LAURA LINGWOOD reviews the case of Larry Nassar Larry Nassar, an American sports physician who serviced the likes of female US Olympic gymnasts, has caused global outrage within the last few months after it had come to light that he had mistreated his position as a doctor to sexually abuse young women and girls. The prolific offender was branded a ‘monster’ by judge Rosemarie Aquilina during her final sentencing statement. Anyone willing to dispute his name being stigmatized here would be incredibly inhumane as the behaviour he chose to undertake is undeniably simply that of a monster. That one word doesn’t portray the pain and suffering any one of his survivors had to endure; 156 girls and women. Females who were as young as 6 years old when he sexually abused them, females whom of which he abused for several traumatizing years, and all females whom of which he took advantage of the trust they and their families placed towards him, stood in court to testify against Nassar. The exposure of the case went even further than the global scale it had originally, via the use of a viral video of Judge Aquilina sentencing him to 175 years in prison. However, the nature of the language and atmosphere Aqulilina set provoked a controversial argument that the “bias” created an unfair trial and ruled out the key element of the Judicial institution being a healthy democratic balance. So, is this true? Is the trial of Larry Nassar, a now convicted sexual abuser, unfair? Aquilina blistered his name with ‘monster’ which clearly reflects her personal opinion towards him. Critics were quick to judge Rosemarie’s actions by suggesting that the trial creates an unjust tribunal by allowing 156 victims to stand before the judge and state the extent of the sentence they want to see be applied. JUDGE ROSE-MARIE AQUILINA– WHO WENT VIRAL ON TWITTER WITH A VIDEO OF HER IN THE FINAL SENTENCING One ex-gymnast, Gwen Anderson, stated that “he is going to sit in jail for the rest of his life, we on the other hand are going to move forward. We are going to carry on with our lives, we are going to overcome impossible odds because that’s what we are trained to do.” Anderson went on to say, “little girls don’t stay little forever, they grow into strong women that return to destroy your world”. The argument the critics are placing forward is that the judicial figures crossed an ethical line by allowing all 156 strong, powerful survivors of abuse, which had such depth and exhaustive details of
LARRY NASSAR IN HIS TRIAL the abuse, to make an impact on the sentencing, which was far greater than anyone or Nassar could predict. It is fairly simplistic to refute this particular argument. Every single victim has a right to fight for justice for what happened to them, every single victim has the right to speak up about the events, no ethical line was crossed because after all, they were merely using the voice they now can freely use after he took their ability to do so away. NASSAR’S VICTIMS GIVING IMPACT STATEMENTS AT HIS TRIAL No legal system is perfect. There was extensive uproar when rapist Brock Turner back in January 2015 was charged with rape of an intoxicated female. He received a 6 month sentence of which he only served 3 months. People globally made their anger towards this case clear after he was released based on good behaviour. Individuals protested against this and proposed that the state of California should pass a bill which would provide a mandatory sentence of a minimum 3 years for sexual assault of a intoxicated or unconscious individual of which it has since been passed. Cases like that of Turner show how great of an influence media and support from civilian’s can have upon the sentencing of a case, or even the legal aftermath. So, in answer to my question, is the trial of Larry Nassar unfair? I truly would say that for a vile man who has created deep mental scars for the survivors of his abuse, causing his actions to be entrenched deeply into their past, present and the future, a sentence which will see him live to see the remainder of his life in prison away from the freedom of society, can be legally and morally justified. As one survivor said: “abuse goes beyond the moment”.