Article Text

Download PDFPDF
‘Only by speaking out can we create lasting change’: what can we learn from the Dr Larry Nassar tragedy?
  1. Margo Mountjoy1,2
  1. 1 Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 International Olympic Committee - Games Group, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Margo Mountjoy, Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8, Canada; mmsportdoc{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

As it turns out… Dr Nassar was not a doctor, he in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester and a monster of a human being. End of story. He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away.

McKayla Maroney, Olympic Gold Medallist, London 2012.

Dr Larry Nassar was sentenced on 24 January 2018 to 40–125 years in prison in Eaton County and 40–175 years in Ingham County, Michigan, USA, for first-degree criminal sexual conduct in addition to 60 years in Federal court for child pornography. During the court proceedings, 156 women who call themselves the ‘army of survivors’, spoke about their abuse experiences in emotional and powerful victim impact statements. In the course of his professional career, Dr Nassar is alleged to have sexually abused approximately 256 female athletes from 1998 to 2015, often in front of parents. His victims were mainly gymnasts, some as young as 6 years of age. For some victims, the abuse occurred repetitively, up to 10 years in duration. Dr Nassar stated that his ‘medical treatments’ (which were invasive pelvic floor ‘therapy’ where he would digitally penetrate girls’ vaginas and anuses) would cure physical injuries. He abused them in his clinic, his home, at training camps and at competition venues where he treated them alone in his hotel room, often after having sedated the athlete with sleeping pills. Dr Nassar referred to himself as the ‘body whisperer’.1

What is unique about this sexual abuse case is that Dr Nassar is an osteopathic sport medicine physician. One of our colleagues. One of our fraternity. Larry was the physician for the USA Gymnastics team and worked at four Olympic Games. He was a practising sport medicine physician for a prestigious university in the NCAA collegiate system in the USA, …

View Full Text


  • Contributors MM contributed to the conception and design, drafting and revising the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note ‘Only by speaking out can we create lasting change’. Stokes D. (accessed 18 Feb 2018).