Larry Nassar, the doctor accused of molesting at least 30 female athletes, was charged with sexual assault yesterday, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Dr. Nassar, who specialized in treating female gymnasts at Michigan State University and through the USA Gymnastics organization, faces charges in two Michigan counties, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2015 against a victim under 13. The high-profile allegations against Nassar, which he has denied, come at a time of renewed national debate over sexual abuse and gymnastics.
An investigation by the Indianapolis Star found that USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics, for years ignored sexual abuse allegations against numerous coaches, routinely dismissing them as “hearsay unless they came directly from a victim or victim’s parents.” For several years, there has been talk of the US Olympic Committee creating a Center for Safe Sport to help organizations prevent, report, and respond to abuse claims. Athletes can also be a powerful force in affecting change, experts say, especially when they are willing to share their stories with the public.