The Nassar case goes beyond gymnastics
ONE-BY-ONE, the survivors walked to the podium in a court room in Ingham County, Mich., and shared their stories. In all, 156 women and girls spoke at the sentencing hearing for former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to 40 to 175 years.
Much of the focus has been on the gymnasts Nassar abused, but this was not just a gymnastics problem. Nassar abused dancers, figure skaters, soccer players, softball players, basketball players, swimmers, rowers, track athletes and cross-country runners. Not all victims were athletes. One such survivor is Catryina Brown, who worked at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine as a simulated patient between 2008 and '10. Then 24, Brown worked with Nassar as he taught students how to perform pelvic and breast exams. She is a reminder that not all of Nassar's abuse stemmed from his manipulation of the doctor-patient power imbalance, in closed exam rooms. He was also a shockingly brazen public perpetrator.
According to court documents and interviews, during one simulated examination with Brown, Nassar failed to drape her properly, leaving her exposed, and placed his thumb on her clitoris. She told Nassar that his hand was in an inappropriate position and that there were students there to learn how to do the procedure properly. She recalled Nassar telling the students, "If you're in a low-income area, you might have to talk down to your patients so that they understand you."
"I'm an African-American woman," she says. "I was disgusted. I said to the students, 'No matter where you are, you're supposed to treat every patient equally [and] explain everything you're doing.'" After leaving the room, Brown expressed her discomfort to her supervisor, who told Brown she'd speak with Nassar and that Brown would not have to work with him again. That supervisor no longer works at Michigan State.
Brown didn't see Nassar again until she noticed his photo on the news in December 2016 in connection with allegations of sexual abuse. "The first thing that came to mind was 'I complained about that doctor.'" She had a new supervisor by then and after speaking with her, Brown was directed to human resources. She was sent to the Office of Institutional Equity and then to MSU police detective Angela Munford. Brown says that when Munford got in touch with her previous supervisor, the woman did not recall Brown's complaint.