There’s a general presumption that those who work with children, whether as educators, coaches or medical professionals, do so because they want the best for the kids. While that may be true of the vast majority of people who work with children, teens and young adults, some people seek these kinds of positions because they want power over and access to children for deviant reasons.
Many times, parents whose children are victims of sexual abuse did not realize how dangerous the predator in the situation really was. Sexual predators are often socially savvy, able to disguise their behaviors and predilections in public. Children are often scared to come forward about abuse.
The recent scandal involving a sports medicine doctor and gymnasts at Michigan State demonstrates how financial accountability matters to victims.
For many years, Larry Nassar was a respected doctor, considered one of the best sports physicians in the world. He worked with collegiate athletes, as well as Olympians, during his career. However, in addition to providing patients with care, he also touched their genitals in completely inappropriate ways for his own benefit and gratification.
The first victims to come forward were ignored, shunned and shamed by college administrators at Michigan State University. It took victims really pushing and organizing for the college to finally take them seriously. Nassar was eventually convicted of both criminal sexual conduct and child pornography charges. His sentence extends beyond multiple lifetimes. During his trial, 156 female victims spoke about the abuse. At least one male victim has since come forward as well.
Now that criminal courts have found Nassar guilty of serious offenses, victims have received at least some justice. The man who misused his position of trust will never again have the opportunity to inappropriately touch a patient entrusted to his care. He will spend the rest of his life incarcerated.
However, his sentence does not undo the harm caused by his actions. These victims will most likely require significant counseling and therapy for years to overcome the damages caused by this abuse. Some of them have already lost educational and career opportunities as a result of the psychological fallout of this abuse.
These victims may have a case against Michigan State University, as the college clearly helps facilitate a cover-up of Nassar’s behavior and failed to properly investigate repeated claims against him. While much of Nassar’s assets went either to his wife in divorce or toward court costs and attorney fees, Michigan State University has the resources to support these victims and offset the impact their negligence caused.
Other families discovering abuse of their children may not immediately consider the financial impact, but they should. While compensation can’t undo the harm a child experiences via abuse by a coach, teacher, pastor or doctor, it can, at least, offset the costs associated with treatment and recovery from abuse.