Newcomers to this blog are advised to begin with the first two posts, Just the Facts, Ma'am and Case Solved, which explain in very general terms why I believe I've solved this case. Some important questions are answered in the following post, Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, Misdirections. After that feel free to browse whatever topics might interest you (see blog archive).

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Case of Larry Nassar

I've been bothered for some time with questions regarding certain issues that have received much media attention during the past few months. And since I feel a need to share my thoughts, I've decided to go out on a limb here, despite the fact that these issues have no direct bearing on the  Ramsey case. While the focus of this blog is on JonBenet's murder, more general questions pertaining to justice and injustice have always been lurking in the background, which is why I've felt justified in occasionally addressing such issues in reference to both the Amanda Knox and Steven Avery cases.


The case of Larry Nassar, the now notorious Osteopath accused of sexually assaulting 150 (or more) young gymnasts, is particularly puzzling. Before I continue, I would like to make clear that I have no intention of defending this guy, because I simply don't know enough about the case to render a judgement. But there are certain  aspects of the case that trouble me and certain  questions that, in my view, need to addressed before Nassar is universally condemned as some sort of out of control pedophile monster.

I'll start with the huge collection of "child pornography" found on his hard drive. When I first heard that he was being accused of "child pornography" my assumption was that he'd been discovered producing such pornography himself, i.e., taking photos or videos of underage girls and sharing them with others, presumably via some sort of online pedophile network. As I've read more about the case, however, I've seen no evidence that he's been accused of anything more than collecting such materials for his own "use," and while possession of child pornography is in fact illegal, it hardly seems more of an offense than, for example, possession of small amounts of marijuana for one's own use. In this regard, the sentence of 60 years imposed solely on the basis of his having collected such materials (the accusations of sexual molestation are another issue) seems way out of line. Which makes one wonder regarding the objectivity of a judge who would want to impose such a harsh sentence over what appears to be little more than a misdemeanor. [Added on Jan. 29: from the Justia website:
Child pornography charges can be prosecuted in both federal and state court and carry hefty criminal punishments. First-time offenses can result in 15-20 years in prison plus extended time in supervised sex offender release programs. Being charged with possession of child pornography will also typically require a defendant to be registered in a sex offender database.]
The many accusations of sexual abuse are, of course, another matter entirely, and since so many young women have come forward with such accusations any attempt to defend Nassar would seem almost pointless. Yet, after reading several accounts of these accusations, I'm left scratching my head. While the word "rape" is often used in this context, I don't see any examples of anything that would usually be considered rape, i.e., sexual intercourse or other form of sexual assault imposed against the victim's will. In almost every case what he's being accused of is little more than digital penetration of an underage girl's vagina. And in almost every case it's become clear that the "victim" and her parents consented to this behavior at the time, with the understanding that it was a legitimate medical  procedure.

Now Nassar is an osteopath, an approach to medicine that's been controversial for some time and regarded in many quarters as seriously flaky. Osteopaths have all sorts of ideas that go against mainstream thinking and have often been ridiculed. Yet it has for some time been accepted by the AMA as a legitimate "alternative" approach to healing. Is the digital penetration of a vagina in fact considered legitimate in osteopathic circles and have other osteopaths used such methods? We see little reference to this question in typical media reports, but from the online research I've done the answer seems to be "yes." But with the qualification that the method is rarely used -- while Nassar has been accused of using it routinely, which does sound extremely suspicious.

If he did in fact use it routinely, however, then it's very difficult to understand why he could have gotten away with this sort of behavior for so long, especially since he was never shy about explaining and even demonstrating his methods. Personally I find the whole idea extremely offensive, but if it is in fact regarded as a legitimate procedure, and if he made no secret of his methods, and if neither the girls themselves nor their parents saw it, at the time, as anything other than a medical procedure, then it's difficult to understand how, many years after the fact, all these women could regard themselves as having been violated -- and to the extent that they are now suffering serious psychological consequences as a result.

There is also the question of intent. Is any action criminal if there is no criminal intent? In my eyes the penetration of the vagina of an underage girl with or without her consent is unacceptable under any circumstances. But given the context in which these actions occurred, it's possible to believe that Nassar himself saw them as legitimate medical treatment, with no more prurient intent than the actions of any gynecologist. If he had been put on trial, his lawyer could have argued on this basis for reasonable doubt, as there is no way to prove that his intentions were anything other than honorable. But Nassar decided to plead guilty and throw himself at the mercy of the judge, which may have been a huge mistake.

From what  I've been reading, Nassar actually denied ever penetrating anyone's vagina, with his finger or anything else. He claimed that his manipulations had been misinterpreted as penetration because his fingers would often come close to the vagina or even touch it, but he's denied actual penetration, claiming that there had been no need to use gloves since his fingers never went far enough to warrant them. Now this would seem especially hard to believe since you would think that anyone would be able to tell whether her vagina had been penetrated or not.

Yet here too I find myself puzzled. How could he have penetrated the vaginas of so many young virgins without first encountering the obstacle posed by the hymen? Are we to believe he could have actually gotten away with breaking through the hymen of hundreds of girls without consequences? How would he have been able to explain the  bleeding, not to mention the extreme pain? Penetration of the vagina explained away as medical treatment is one thing;  destroying the hymen of a young virgin is quite another thing. I find it all but impossible to believe that either the girls or their parents would have tolerated such an action for one minute. However, unless we want to assume that these girls were not virgins at the time he was treating them, it's very hard to understand how he could have digitally penetrated their vaginas without first breaking their hymens.

Admittedly there are details of this case I am still unaware of so, unlike the Knox or Avery cases, I'm not going to draw any hard and fast conclusions. I'm hoping that some of the women following this blog can provide some enlightenment regarding the issues I've raised and as always I welcome all relevant comments.


54 comments:

  1. I do think that guilt is possible, even if it's not intentional.

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    1. Well, as I said, imo such behavior is unacceptable under any circumstances, period. But from a strictly legal point of view, I do think it's necessary for the prosecution to establish intent, no?

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    2. Yeah, I don't know if there's a case without it.

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    3. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome info! I am looking forward to see more postsby you! Osteo in Sydney

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  2. I've seen the news coverage on Nasser but haven't delved into it further.

    My experiences with osteopathic doctors have always been positive and are my doctors or choice, but are not common in the South where I live. My first DO was also one of the doctors for the Kansas City Chiefs NFL team.

    Now, without going too far into descriptions, menstrating girls and women that use tampons don't damage the hymen.

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    1. Does that mean Nassar could have penetrated their vaginas without damaging their hymens?

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    2. Yes. I don't want to be too vulgar here, but young girls in consenting relationships can fool around with 'heavy petting' and then later giving their virginity up to someone that they care for and cares for them, it still hurts and more often than not there is some blood. Not really with digital or even complete gynecological exams that I'm personally aware of, nor with my female friends when it comes up.

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  3. I don't know all the details of this case but I do disagree completely with your comment that possession of child pornography seems hardly more of an offense than possessions of small amounts of marijuana. I'm surprised you said that Doc.

    Children are probably scarred for life due to being used for child porn. If there were no "takers", hopefully the use of kids for the entertainment of some sick adults would diminish considerably.

    Maybe, I misunderstood your point.

    K

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  4. Thank you K for pointing that out. There is nothing harmless about child porn. And no comparison to personal use of marijuana, in my opinion either.

    There tends to be a lot in Doc's entries to break down. No one anywhere in the world deserves any kind of pass for possession of child porn.

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    1. I agree that possession of child porn is a serious matter, and that people who collect it, such as Nassar, are complicit in crimes against children for sure. But many people found guilty of rape and even murder are given lighter sentences than the 60 years meted out to Nassar, a sentence that seems way out of line. I do take back the comparison to marijuana, however -- that was not a very good example, admittedly. Maybe CC can enlighten us with some thoughts on this matter, from a legal standpoint.

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    2. You go, girls. Doc is the misogynist-in-chief. I saved a particularly salacious remark he posted less than a year ago, and I'm happy to share.

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    3. Wow you have become nasty CC

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    4. Possibly so. Possibly long overdue.

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    5. Possibly, CC. Yes, possibly. But nasty posts will be deleted as soon as I see them, so don't waste your time.

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  5. At what year did it become mandatory that there be a nurse in the room accompanying physicians when vaginal exams were to be performed? A few decades ago. So this guy was doing vaginal exams without a nurse present? Unbelievable. Seems as though there are two issues here - an osteopath who is allowed to do vaginal exams, and no other witnesses to the exams other than the patients/victims.

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  6. It's a bit unsettling, to say the least, that a man who works with children and young adults, had child porn on his computer. I do get what you're saying Doc, but these girls testified that they'd been touched inappropriately. I think the sentence was severe because of the many lives that were impacted negatively by this man's actions.

    EG

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    1. As I said, I'm not in a position to defend him. The large number of young women testifying against him would make that very difficult in any case. Nevertheless, I'm disturbed by the circumstances in which this media circus took place. (I can't think of a better term, since this was certainly not a trial.) None of his accusers was cross-examined, no effort seems to have been made to determine exactly what happened, nor to explain why these ladies claim to have been violated in so "monstrous" a fashion, yet continued to return for additional "treatments" over a period of years. Exactly when did supposedly legitimate medical procedures morph into vicious sexual abuse in their minds? And are the serious psychological consequences they are suffering due to what actually happened, or to what they've been convinced is the meaning of what happened many years afterward?

      Complicating the issue is the fact that most if not all these women are plaintifs in what will probably be a series of civil suits involving many millions of dollars. I'm not saying they are necessarily lying, but there is an incentive to possibly make more of these encounters than is warranted by what actually happened. We have to remember that in many cases a parent was present and that other physicians have apparently engaged in manipulations of a very similar kind with no negative consequences. With no opportunity for the defendant to cross-examine, one has to wonder at the fairness of these proceedings.

      I'm thinking now about the notorious McMartin preschool case, in which literally hundreds of children testified that they'd been subject to abuse during satanic rituals.

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  7. You bring up some good points, Doc and I must admit, I haven't read all that much into this case to be able to address any of your questions. I did read that the parents were present during these examinations, which was puzzling to me as well.
    Perhaps as they got older, they went to these treatments alone and that's when the touching became inappropriate?

    Looks what's happened in Hollywood/Politics/Media with the allegations of sexual misconduct running rampant. Not that you can equate it to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, but it seems like everyone is coming out of the woodwork these days claiming to have been sexual harassed/abused in some fashion. It's going to get the point where we won't be able to exchange a greeting without someone feeling threatened by it.

    And yes, I remember the McMartin case, which ruined the lives of many and to this day leaves lingering questions. Once accused of something like that, it's hard to get out from under it.

    EG

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  8. People don't feel threatened by greetings. They feel threatened by assault, harassment, threats, and power plays. Funny how these young gymnasts were sent to this quack with a variety of ailments but they were all treated for their pulled muscles and sore joints with the same 'vaginal penetration adjustment' or whatever the hell he told them it was. It's sickening, it's abusive, it's criminal, and I'm glad Nassar will die in jail.

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  9. He plead guilty to seven counts of first-degree sexual misconduct and to using his position of power to sexually abuse these girls. Whats to defend?

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    1. I'm not trying to defend him. It's just that the entire process under which he was prosecuted is extremely puzzling and many aspects of it strike me as both unfair and even bizarre. For one thing, he apparently made some sort of plea deal, but as he wound up with a longer than lifetime sentence it's hard to understand what sort of deal that was and why he would have made it if, as he now alleges, what he did was a legitimate medical procedure. Also, imo there is no excuse for the media circus instigated by the judge, which serves no purpose other than promoting the civil suits that are sure to follow. Many people aside from Nassar are being harmed and this looks like it could easily morph into an extensive witch hunt.

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  10. Look at Jimmy Savile, God he even got a knighthood ( sir). An iconic fundraiser. He worked with many charities and also the BBC on children's tv in the early days, children would go to his dressing room after. He was filmed visiting many hospitals and children's homes. After his death it came to light around 450 children and Adults accused him of serious sexual assault, some backed by witnesses such as workers for the BBC down to his chauffeur.Some incidents were reported but brushed under the table because of who he was.

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  11. I see what you have done with your blog Doc. It's bigger than just solving a mystery or discussing a case. It's an inquiry into the sociological and relevant issues of our times, something that is sorely missing with much of the population today. Something that has been missing since we left our schools of higher learning, where it was required, that we think, in abstract ways often. So I applaud you for the environment you have created here Doc, it's bigger than Solving JonBenet.

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    1. Thanks, Lou. I do think it appropriate to open our discussion up to other issues, especially issues relating to justice and injustice. Especially now, when everyone seems to be suffering from Ramsey fatigue, it might be a good idea to move to broader issues. Suggestions are welcome. Also guest posts.

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  12. There is a case that has been bothering me since 2011. And, there will be a civil trial brought by the family of the supposed suicide victim this month. It's the case of Max Shaknai, son of wealthy pharmaceutical company owner Jonah Shaknai, who took a terrible tumble down the stairs on his scooter at his mansion (the famous Ronald McDonald mansion) in Coronado, CA. and the death of the father's girlfriend a few days later. Jonah's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau was found hanging from the bedroom balcony where she was living under very mysterious circumstances. Her hands and feet were bound, and there was a strange message scrawled on her bedroom door.

    Dr. Cyril Wecht has commented on this case, extensively. I'd like to copy a link discussing the case and send it here for those to read or follow. Rebecca's family has maintained she did not commit suicide, she was murdered. The police thought otherwise. If there is no interest that's okay with me too!

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Wrongful death suit:

    http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/sd-me-zehau-lawsuit-20170420-story.html

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  15. corrected link for Town and Country article:

    http://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/money-and-power/a13795756/shaknai-deaths-mystery-coronado-california/

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    1. Yes, Lou, I remember reading about that case and of course wondering how this woman could have 1. tied her hands behind her back and 2. hung herself with her hands tied like that. The mysterious message was also very intriguing. No way this was a suicide. If you would like to write this up I'll include it as a guest post and we can discuss it. Send it to my email address.

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  16. Hi Lou, I'm familiar with that case as we had it on the forum I list cases on. I just saw a tv segment recently about the civil suit. I'm glad that Rebecca has a family that has kept going to seek answers for her. Hers was one of the strangest "suicides" I've ever heard of.

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  17. Yes Lil, it's remarkable that although the police ruled Max's death an accident and Rebecca's death a suicide, Rebecca's family just didn't buy it. They persisted. Now they will have their day in court. Jonah's brother was visiting in the guest house - that's the added twist. Did he have something to do with her death? He says he "took an ambien, then went to bed." Sounds like someone else who took a melatonin, doesn't it?

    Doc, I'll read more and try and consolidate this and send, when I get a significant work break. Thanks.

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    1. I'd forgotten about the Ambien story. Oh my, well I've used that and melatonin and benadryl to help with sleep over the years, and none affected my hearing during sleep. Btw, you mentioned Dr Cyril Wecht, I enjoy hearing him talk, no matter the subject. I just like how he delivers his ideas.

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    2. Doc, I forwarded the Shacknai/Zalau story again rather than re-type it night before last. It's possible it's in your spam folder? If you want to edit or clean it up, feel free.

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    3. Should have checked my email first. I see that you got it. Thanks.

      Lil, there are so many details to the story, it just never added up really. That the police would brush the whole thing off as a suicide, and not really check anyone's story as to what happened when Max fell, continues to give the police a bad reputation.

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  18. Hi DocG, I just heard on Dr. Oz today that he's airing a new True Crime Tuesday episode regarding JonBenet next Tuesday, Feb. 6th. Apparently he will interview a couple who say they have proof regarding who killed her.

    http://www.doctoroz.com/press-release/dr-oz-show-delivers-feet-fire-february-and-celebrates-its-1500th-show

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    1. Thanks for this Mrs. B. Does anyone recognize this couple? The Fernies? It was a year ago this month Dr Oz did a segmen on the case that I watched then. Had the spin to it, think I did post about it here. Sweep weeks maybe, since it's popping up again.

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    2. Lil, It looks like the couple is Judith (Phillips) Miller and Doc Miller. I can't stand that woman!

      http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/true-crime-tuesday-couple-who-say-they-can-prove-jonbene-t-ramsey-s-murder-was-covered

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    3. Yes, that's Judith Phillips. Who know what she'll say now. I've read where she blamed Patsy, and other times she's talked about Burke's bad temper.

      I think it's safe to say she won't blame Teflon John.

      K

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    4. Thank you HKH and K. Then whatever they say can't be 'New' info as the two have spoken about this case, blogged, written a book, been interviewed before. Sigh
      Well at least it shows that some are still more willing to speak about Jonbenet than her own aunts, uncle, grandparents, et al have over the years.

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  19. It's always suspicious when people say they have "proof" and yet they don't take it to the district attorney, they take it to the airwaves.

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  20. First of all, yes, it's entirely possible to digitally penetrate the vagina without breaking the hymen. Do you have even a passing acquaintance with female anatomy? And you apparently didn't make even a cursory perusal of the many reports of testimony at the trial and statements given by the victims. There were many, many reports of him breaking the hymens of girls as young as eleven. And where did you get the idea that the parents knew what was going on all the time? Again, did you read ANYTHING about the case other than headlines? He hid his activities from parents and nurses behind sheets or drapes, or even obstructed their view with his own body. You should simply delete this post and spare yourself the embarrassment.

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    1. How could a mother not know if her daughter's hymen had been broken? And how could she then continue to send her daughter to the person who had done this to her? So sorry, but there are still some disturbing unanswered questions about the way this case is being handled.

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    2. Oh Doc, why would you think a mom is giving genital exams herself about the condition of her daughter's hymen?

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    3. I would think that, if a girl's hymen had been breached by a "doctor," she'd have said something to her mother about it. And knowing that this was even a possibility, why would any "doctor" take such a huge risk?

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    4. Ever heard of grooming? Ever heard of shame? Many of the victims DID come forward and weren't believed. Nasser was protected for years at every turn. With every new victim, Nasser became more and more emboldened. And some of his victims were paid off and silenced, like McKayla Maroney.

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    5. If I were the parent of a young girl whose hymen had been breached without her consent by anyone, I would certainly take action and I would do so immediately, not 20 years later so I could get in on a potentially lucrative lawsuit. At the very least I would not permit my child to continue to be treated by someone who was either a pedophile or a charlatan. It's not hard to see how a naive child could be groomed and shamed, but the parents were not children, they had every opportunity to look into Nassar's history and background and if they found anything questionable they should, at the very least, not have sent their daughters back to him. Yet just about all of them did -- for what's been reported as "hundreds" of "treatments". If there is going to be a lawsuit, and that's definitely in the cards, then the parents should be sued along with all the other enablers.

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    6. That's called personal accountability and responsibility Doc, which unfortunately, in today's world, are becoming obsolete.
      You're absolutely right, of course. It's the same with these child stars who were abused by pedophiles in the movie industry. Where were the parents? Where were the ADULTS who knew, but said nothing. Now, when the damage has been done, everyone is coming out of the woodwork. It's criminal. I just hope it helps others in the future, but I have my doubts.

      EG

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  21. I agree with Anonymous above. Massage should be given the death penalty. And before they do that, the judge should allow that dad 5min with Nasser alone. What a legend that dad is.

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    1. Nasser (not Massage). Stupid phone...

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    2. Reminds me of Ellie Nesler who shot her son's molester in court.

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    3. My heart broke for that dad when I saw that news segment. :( I can understand his outrage.

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  22. "If I were the parent of a young girl whose hymen had been breached without her consent by anyone, I would certainly take action and I would do so immediately, not 20 years later so I could get in on a potentially lucrative lawsuit. At the very least I would not permit my child to continue to be treated by someone who was either a pedophile or a charlatan. It's not hard to see how a naive child could be groomed and shamed, but the parents were not children, they had every opportunity to look into Nassar's history and background and if they found anything questionable they should, at the very least, not have sent their daughters back to him. Yet just about all of them did -- for what's been reported as "hundreds" of "treatments". If there is going to be a lawsuit, and that's definitely in the cards, then the parents should be sued along with all the other enablers."

    Absolutely there are parents who have things to answer for. Many of them speak of their feelings of overwhelming guilt because they "should have known." Others admit that their daughters told them of the abuse and they didn't believe them. Nasser was a god in their community. It was considered an honor to be seen by him. It meant your daughter was special and destined for great things. If the Me Too movement should teach us anything, it's that powerful men get away with this stuff for years. It's not always as easy as, 'well if it was me, I'd pursue him to the ends of the earth.' But yes, some parents are complicit. Not in the abuse itself, but in allowing it to go on as long as it did. There are a lot of parents out there who will gladly take a pay off when their kids are abused and raped. But none of that means that Nasser's sentence is somehow unjustified. He deserves to die in jail. Even the new judge said he still doesn't get it and he can't be reformed. He still thinks he's the victim in all this. He's a psychopath.

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  23. I have been reading this blog on and off for years. I thought this post had to be a joke. Doc, how in the world can you be so ignorant on this matter of over 150 women being sexually abused? This will be my last time visiting. I can't take anything you say seriously anymore.

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    1. So Megan, you evidently have no problem with someone drawing a 60 year sentence simply for the possession of child porn? You have no problem with a situation where the lawyer of the accused is not permitted to cross-question his accusers? You have no problem with a judge who allows a court case to become a media circus by encouraging everyone who feels wronged to attack him in public? and without giving him the opportunity to respond?

      It's not as though he's been accused of forcing himself on anyone -- he's always insisted that his actions were based on legitimate medical practices, and those now accusing him went back time after time because they believed his procedures were working. Do we now want to subject every male gynecologist to a polygraph so we can be sure his intentions were pure? And what about female gynecologists, should they be investigated for signs of lesbianism?

      Since I have no way of getting into Nassar's mind I have no way of knowing whether or not he is being sincere when he claims he was "just" following what he regarded as good medical practices. Does that mean I approve of those practices? No, not at all. I think that what he did over all those years was irresponsible, ill advised, and arrogant, as though he thought he could get away with treatments that did in fact border on sexual abuse and may well have been such.

      My biggest problem, as should be obvious to anyone following this blog, is with the sort of group think we find more and more in this country, where people are increasingly brainwashed by the media and other authority figures into accepting assumptions that fly in the face of simple logic and, yes, simple decency.

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