I don’t have specific knowledge, but it could be a few things - institutional inertia (i.e. no one with the power could be bothered to do anything about it, always assuming it was someone else’s responsibility); misogynistic negligence (not believing the complaints); or the old boys club - maybe Nassar had powerful buddies. Or a combination, if not something else.
I think this is a big one. At the time this broke in the news, I remember reading an article with quotes from many of the survivors and their parents talking about how they were all told that they misunderstood the treatments Nassar was providing. In some cases they were also discouraged from going ahead with their complaints, being told what a huge pain in the ass it would be for everyone involved.
It wasn’t a matter of evil people deliberately covering for a villain.
Misplaced trust and obstinate disbelief despite multiple complaints explains a lot about why Nassar and others were allowed to get away with their actions for so long.
Richard Strauss, a team doctor at Ohio State had at least 177 male abuse victims and some of what he was up to had been reported long before his exposure. Then there’s Sandusky at Penn State (not a physician, but similarly in a position of undeserved trust).
John Story was a respected physician in a small Wyoming town, who for years (up until the mid-1980s) got away with sexually abusing and even raping patients, who were not believed because he was an admired family doctor and most of his victims were Mormons who were thought to have it in for him because he was of a different faith.
Some of it may be that since the girls were high performing athletics that it may have been assumed that they were more mature mentally than they actually were and would have reported abuse. Mentally more mature in a competitive arena, but they were still young teen aged girls and were possibly less mature than some of their peers who did not complete in Olympic level athletics. They lived in a constant train, compete and do what ever it takes to win bubble for the majority of their lives up to point when they were abused. And Dr. Nassar knew that and how to play them because of that.
I think it say “gynastics” instead of “gymnastics”.
I remember reading a while back that even some of the parents ignored the girls, or maybe they were so focused on winning and Nassar had such a great rep that they downplayed what the girls were saying.
It’s not unique to sports. Jimmy Saville was a huge celebrity in the UK, and it appears to have been widely known that he was a predatory pedophile. So much so that when he visited sick children in the hospital the nurses would go out of their way to warn the kids and make sure they weren’t alone with him.
He molested/raped hundreds of people, but it wasn’t until after his desth that serious investigations were
Celebrities and important people just seem to get a lot of latitude, for many reasons. They are powerful, and may trynto destroy the complainant. No one wants to file charges against a celebrity, because it could destroy them if they aren’t believed.
A celebrity who earns a lot of money for a lot of people can lean on them to rain hell down on anyone who might disrupt the gravy train. Plus they will have lots of people willing to believe anything they say so long as the gravy keeps flowing. It might not be a coincidence that Saville avoided justice until he was dead, and Bill Cosby only got charged after he no longer had a serious career. And it took a whole catalog of serious complaints to bring Harvey Weinstein down.
I think rationalization may be a factor. People often invent reasons for the things they did after they already did them.
Some people who were in a position to have intervened may not have done so when they first heard the accusations. And then when more accusations were made, these people may have been making an unconscious choice; they may have found it more comfortable to their own self-image to keep believing in Nassar’s innocence rather than admit to themselves they had been wrong in their initial beliefs. Admitting they had made the wrong decision would have meant accepting some of the responsibility for the crimes that had occurred since then.
I assume that Nasser had a huge say in who got to compete. If he said that a girl’s injuries were too chronic for her to move on, they would be dropped from the program. You probably didn’t want to cross him.
The thing is, you can suspect someone, deeply suspect someone, but not have enough evidence to accuse them. And when you are worried about sexual impropriety, you don’t want to go ask people, especially children, leading questions. So I can easily imagine being nervous enough about someone not to want to leave young children alone with them but not have enough evidence to actually say anything.
I’m not saying that was the case here: I don’t know the specifics. But I do think a reluctance to ask questions/raise concerns does function as a smoke screen for these sorts of situations. If you were uncomfortable with some story your daughter had about Nassar, but not even sure yourself if it was intended sexually, you’d just pull her. And abusers start with those sorts of ambiguous touches to figure out what they can get away with.
Right. Also there is a sort of self-reinforcing dissuasive to these situations, in that people will think to themselves: “If something really bad were going on and you could prove it… SOMEONE would say/do something about it, right? … right?” Especially when they don’t feel they can prove it. They perceive themselves as having a weak hand or no hand to play other than mitigation at the scale they can handle individually, and that indirectly strengthens the abusers’ hand and lets the institution look the other way with impunity.