#MeToo encouraged Americans to believe women. The Nassar case shows why that’s so important.
When Kyle Stephens told her parents at age 12 that she had been abused by gymnastics coach Larry Nassar, they didn’t believe her.
Nassar, a former sports medicine physician at Michigan State University and doctor for USA Gymnastics, successfully convinced her parents she was lying about six years of abuse, and they believed him so completely that they made her apologize to him, according to the Washington Post. As a result, Stephens, as a teenager, began to pull away from her family.
On Wednesday, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse in addition to a 60-year sentence for child pornography handed down in December 2017. More than 150 survivors spoke over the course of seven days at his sentencing hearing before the Ingham County Circuit Court in Michigan about how his abuse had affected them.
“Larry Nassar wedged himself between myself and my family, and used his leverage as a family friend to pry us apart until we fractured,” Stephens said at the hearing.
Her father killed himself in 2016, and Stephens says she believes his eventual realization that she was telling the truth was part of the reason.
Stephens is not the only survivor of Nassar’s abuse who was disbelieved or ignored — as Vox’s Jane Coaston notes, Michigan State officials first received a report of Nassar’s behavior in 1997. While allegations against Nassar became public before revelations about Harvey Weinstein started a new conversation around sexual harassment and assault, the current #MeToo moment has undeniably brought more public attention to survivors’ reports about Nassar, and perhaps helped them to be taken more seriously.
Girls and young women are still too frequently seen as non-credible witnesses Read More Here