Around the Gymternet: Midweek update


“How much is a little girl worth? How much is a young woman worth?”

Rachael Denhollander at Wednesday’s sentencing.

The sentencing

Nassar gets 175 years: After 158 survivors spoke in court over the course of a week, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced former national team doctor Larry Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for sex crimes, on top of his federal child porn sentence of 60 years.

Judge Aquilina acted as a fierce advocate for Nassar’s survivors throughout the sentencing, and supporters greeted them outside the courtroom, handing them “hero” medals. Watch the survivors’ powerful statements here.

Rolling heads at USAG: USA Gymnastics’ Board of Directors’ executive leadership—Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder, and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley—have resigned, USAG announced on Monday.

The US Olympic Committee said they had been “engaged in discussions” with USAG that led to the resignations. Aly Raisman responded to the statement, saying the org was “shamelessly taking credit” for the resignations and calling for an independent investigation into USAG.

After Nassar’s sentencing, the USOC called on all USAG directors to resign, threatened to decertify USAG, and announced an independent investigation. USAG responded to this statement, saying it supports the investigation and “embraces any necessary and appropriate changes.”

Like flies: AT&T, one of USAG’s few remaining sponsors, suspended the sponsorship “until [the org] is re-built and we know that the athletes are in a safe environment,” the company announced on Tuesday.

Geddert gets the boot: USAG suspended Twistars and 2012 Olympic team coach John Geddert on Friday after survivors at Nassar’s hearing accused him of physical and emotional abuse. Geddert later sent an email to Twistars families informing them of his plans to retire.

Debbie’s gone, too: After 2010 world medalist Mattie Larson’s harrowing testimony, it was revealed that USAG trainer Debbie Van Horn, whom Larson named as an enabler of Nassar’s abuse, was no longer at the org as of Monday.

Ranch under investigation: The sheriff’s department of Walker County—home of the Karolyi Ranch—has launched an investigation into potential crimes committed on the site.

The deal with MSU

Simon steps down: Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon announced her resignation on Wednesday. This comes after Michigan lawmakers called for her resignation, faculty called for a vote of no confidence, students planned a protest, and the chair of MSU’s Athletic Council Sue Carter resigned in protest.

NCAA steps in: The NCAA has opened an investigation into MSU’s handling of the Nassar case, sending a letter of inquiry to MSU on Tuesday. This comes five days after NCAA president Mark Emmert said he didn’t “have enough information” to talk about the case. MSU’s athletic director says the org will “cooperate with any investigation.”

No laughing matter: MSU trustee Joel Ferguson faced backlash after saying “There’s so many more things going on at the university than just this Nassar thing” and laughing at the idea of an NCAA investigation on Tuesday. Ferguson later said that he “deeply regrets the inadvertent comment.”

Pay them back: As if things weren’t disturbing enough, 15-year-old survivor Emma Ann Miller revealed at Nassar’s sentencing that she was still being billed by MSU for “treatment” sessions at which she was abused. MSU later stated that it would not be billing Nassar’s patients.

The AG’s on it: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he would wait until sentencing was completed in both counties before announcing any investigation into MSU’s conduct.

Required reading

  • The Gymternet editor-in-chief Lauren Hopkins writes about her communication with Nassar, and how he was able to manipulate so many (Huffington Post).
  • Sarah Spain explains where the impulse to victim blame comes from, and why it’s so important to believe the abused (ESPNW).
  • Little Girls in Pretty Boxes author Joan Ryan says “it seems nothing has changed” since she wrote her book in 1995, but she has hope (NBC).
  • Michael Rosenberg says that Ferguson’s comments are part of a pattern for MSU (Sports Illustrated).
  • US national champion (1986) Jennifer Sey says the culture of USAG needs to change: “there is danger in assuming that we have a one-guy problem” (International Gymnast).
  • Kevin Blackistone says USAG should withdraw from worlds and the Olympics until the org is completely “razed and rebuilt” (The Washington Post).
  • Nicole Chavez has an overview of those who were named as enablers (CNN).
  • Gregg Doyel: “Evil came to college, and too many adults said: Make yourself at home” (Indianapolis Star).

Voices around the ‘net

Shawn Johnson: In an emotional video, Johnson says USAG has to tear it down and start from scratch: “USAG has failed as a governing body to protects the athletes that it supports and claims to care about.”

Kathy Johnson Clarke: The 1984 Olympic medalist says, “I assure you there are safer, better, healthier ways to create champions,” and that winning doesn’t justify abuse.

Miss Val: UCLA’s head coach says “times up” on USAG’s abusive culture, referring to NCAA gymnastics as “a safe-haven for abused athletes” after retiring from elite. Katelyn Ohashi agrees.

Tim Daggett: Daggett writes that he’s “beaten [him]self up” for not seeing Nassar’s abuse after 25 years covering the sport—”the devil is always a gentleman.”

Samantha Peszek: The 2008 Olympian says she was manipulated into seeing Nassar as a “good guy.” She also says her family has received “death & rape wishes & disgusting vitriol” (Peszek’s mother is the vice president of program development at USAG).

Shannon Miller: Shannon freakin’ Miller outlines changes that need to be made on the organizational level in order to make the sport safe. While she says “the road back is long,” she also believes “positive change can happen.” She told NBC News that “significantly more has to happen.”

Danell Leyva: Leyva says “sentencing just one person I think isn’t justice enough.” Amen.

What you can do

  • Find your representative and call them. Tell them to pass S. 534, the bill to require organizations like USAG to report sexual abuse immediately to law enforcement (the bill has already passed in the Senate).
  • Sign this petition telling the House to pass S. 534.
  • Donate to this GoFundMe campaign to help pay for psychological counseling for survivors.
  • Practice self-care.

Last words

I’m so tired, and my free trial of, like, every newspaper has expired. Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments.

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6 thoughts on “Around the Gymternet: Midweek update

  1. Thank you for your amazing coverage! Regarding Geddert though, I think he got suspended on Friday but it only became apparent on monday. He still attended a meet during the weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really hope that they don’t force them to withdraw from Worlds or the Olympics since that only serves to further punish the athletes. International Gymnast published a lengthy and scathing article about all of this and Rachel Denhollander is a hero for the ages.


  3. Any word on Mary Lou Retton’s stance on all of this? I hope she is regretting trying to block the bill that could have protected athletes.


    • She tried to stop the bill when the number was nearing or at 100. She already showed her true colors and her actions screams that she could care less about the pain those athletes felt for so long and will never get over.


  4. Pingback: Nassar Sentenced to 175 Years in Ingham County | The Gymternet

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