Over the last week I’ve been listening to, researching, and like many others, anticipating the sentencing in the Larry Nassar case in Michigan. To say Judge Aquilina made an example of him would be an understatement and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Like many others, I stand to say it is time for a change. There are multiple problem areas in this case that deserves to be learned from, and oh what a world it would be if we started to learn from them… From the administrators who looked the other way to the MSU police who had multiple chances to save these girls, but didn’t. Why are adults not believing these young women? Why are victims victimized time and time again by more than just the perpetrator himself?
But the leading question rolling around in my very busy brain lately is:
Why is he the 1% case?
Why is it that this man made national media coverage? Why is it that he will be heavily punished, even if rightfully so, when so many others like him are free to live again in society?
Could it be that it’s because more than one of his victims were already popular within the media?
Could he have received such a harsher sentence than most because there were so many girls he violated and abused?
I’ll be the first in line to cry and clap and celebrate during the sentencing. My heart, my entire being, goes out to those survivors in and outside of the courtroom that day, watching as justice (finally some well deserved justice) was served to such a horrible man. Through the headphones in my ears and behind my screen, watching live, I celebrated with those women who were finally able to get retribution and stand up against their abuser. An abuser that had been getting away with something so cruel, for so long.
Here is the issue: What happened during the course of that sentencing week, is so beyond rare.
Larry Nassar violated over 100 women and girls for years by physically touching them painfully and inappropriately. He did this under the guise of medical treatment in order to confuse and build trust with his victims, otherwise known as grooming.
Larry Nassar will be in jail for the rest of his miserable life.
Hundreds of other men… Thousands of other abusers, will not.
By running a quick search on a state database of sex offenders, within just 2 miles of my home, there are 52 found. In. Two. Miles.
If I were to go to the top right corner of the map and extend that out to 5 miles, MY own abuser will appear on that list. A man that at one point in time I trusted, as his position and job would only deem trustworthy and righteous. Thus, another story where a man used his position to help groom and deceive his victim.
I do not live within 5 miles of the correctional facility he was sentenced to. He was released from there a mere 25 months after being sentenced… even though he was sentenced to ten years.
I remember being told that he would get ten years and likely serve 5 years (based on the good time credit, what a joke!) Only to find out he would sneak his way out of there in just over 2 years. How did he manage? Because he also got credit for the college courses he finished while there. Two degrees, an associate’s and bachelor’s in HUMAN SERVICES. (Broken, broken system. The state made him a better perpetrator). I will state that now, they are no longer allowed to gain time off their sentence for college credits in the state of Indiana.
He now lives in a new home, he had to move of course after being too close to a school. He has a job. He has a supportive family, I should know from the multiple unfortunate encounters with them once I finally did tell my story. He has a life.
He will not even be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, that too, is expiring quickly.
My story consisted of four months of confusion, hurt, and emotional shut down after what I can see now was at least a year of grooming… followed by years of pain, more confusion, turmoil, trust issues, tears and tears, nightmares, and broken relationships/family ties…
It was a full year of pre-trials and continuances to finally reach him pleading guilty, only for him to have a month before he was actually sentenced (to say good-byes no doubt)… for 25 months of punishment. Punishment that included three meals a day, recreation, and some college degrees for him.
He was out of jail before I trusted a single soul again.
He was out of jail before I was even remotely done having nightmares on a regular basis.
He had served his “punishment” before a day went by that I didn’t have a panic attack.
He hurt me, but the broken system we expect justice from hurt me more. Because I’m in the 99%.
Larry Nassar received the highest level of punishment in the state he lived in, but far too often what happens is the minimum, or somewhere in the middle.
For example, for the two B felonies and the one D felony that my abuser was charged with, the maximum sentence could have been about 34 years. Obviously the plea agreement allowed him to serve all three charges consecutively, which is cruel considering the abuse wasn’t at all lumped together in one single event, but rather spread out over months. Not only that, but he did not receive the maximum sentence per charge. The good-time credit allowed him to cut his sentence in half at that. This… this little quiet story, is normal. Larry Nassar’s sentencing… is not, but it should be.
I’m in the 99% of survivors who didn’t get fairness. I’m in the 99% who look at all the girls that survived Larry Nassar’s abuse and stand with them, supportive and so overjoyed… but also deeply hurt and jealous that they got fairness. Their abuser will not walk public streets ever again.
Why? Because some of his victims are famous? Because there were more?
Is there a single person reading this that can honestly tell me that he deserves more because it went unnoticed longer? Because he had more victims? Or because some of those victims mean more that other abuser’s victims?
What I do know is that physically, my abuse was even more sexually advanced than the stories that were told over the last week by Larry’s survivors.
Not to say one is worse or better. It is all so unfathomable and disgusting. BUT it is all enough to receive a fair punishment. It shouldn’t matter how many. It shouldn’t matter how often or how long. It shouldn’t matter if you’re rich or poor or famous or ugly or pretty or what race you may be. Now, I’m led to believe that for some insane reason, it is.
Bottom line: One time should be enough. One victim should be enough. One single story. It SHOULD be enough. But it isn’t.
I don’t know why. But here is what I do know. Larry Nassar was made an example of…. Judge Aquilina set a beautiful “step one”….. we have the perfect opportunity to repair part of the broken judicial system.
So this is a call to action. My absolute fear is that it will reach no one. That it will silently die, just like so many other stories.
But here it goes….
Calling all survivors – share your story, join me. Reach out. Whether you have a hundred people in your support system or none, I’m here for you.
Calling all lawmakers- fix this, or tell me what to do to get the ball rolling, I’m all ears.
Calling all prosecutors- explain to me why one abuser gets a fair sentence compared to the so many more that get off so easy, serving little to no time, and are placed back out in society. Help me understand and if you are so willing, help me make the system better, let’s fix this together. Surely, you want that too.
Calling all media- you have such a HUGE opportunity to fan these flames and not allow this fire (Larry Nassar, #metoo, etc) to burn out. Hit me up, I’ll help in any way possible.
Calling all family, friends, strangers who stumbled upon this…. chances are this isn’t the first time you’ve heard a story like this. Continue to be support, but also get involved. Figure out what you can do and how, then do it. Join me in my making this very small voice try to be so very loud, join me in trying to be the change.