I made an error in my report of Larry Nassar last week. I reported that none of the victims had gone to the police about Larry Nassar. That wasn't entirely correct. Brianne Randall-Gay reported Nassar to the Meridian Township Police Department in 2004 after he assaulted her during one of his "medical exams." The police DID take her report seriously and a rape kit was performed. But, when the investigator in charge questioned Nassar, he explained that he was performing a "legitimate medical technique" and even gave them a Power Point presentation on it. The investigator believed Nassar's explanation, partly because he was such a "respected doctor" in their community.
In the wake of the Nassar trial, people have been asking "How on earth could such a thing have happened and why didn't somebody stop him?" Sadly, there are a lot of reasons for this tragedy. One was that Nassar was a doctor and claimed that his procedure had valid medical use. There is a legitimate procedure called "pelvic floor manipulation" whereby a doctor does touch a female patient in the genital area. However, no patient should ever receive this or any other treatment without a thorough explanation by the physician performing it. If the patient is a minor, the parent should also have an understanding and consent before treatment. Any male doctor performing pelvic exams on a female patient will have a female nurse in the room to safeguard the patients AND the doctor. And above all, these procedures should only be conducted in a proper setting and the doctor should always wear gloves.
Larry Nassar broke all of these protocols. He "treated" girls and young women in gym locker rooms and even his hotel room when no other adult was present. Even the doctors who conducted Michigan State's completely botched Title IX investigation concluded:
"We find that whether medically sound or not, the failure to adequately explain procedures such as these invasive, sensitive procedures, is opening the practice up to liability and is exposing patients to unnecessary trauma based on the possibility of perceived inappropriate sexual misconduct. In addition, we find that the failure to obtain consent from patients prior to the procedure is likewise exposing the practice to liability. If procedures can be performed skin-on-skin or over clothes in the breast or pelvic floor area, it would seem patients should have the choice between the two. Having a resident, nurse or someone in the room during a sensitive procedure protects doctors and provides patients with peace of mind. If 'touching is what DO’s do' and that is not commonly known, perhaps the practice will want to consider a disclaimer or information sheet with that information provided to the patient up front."
Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh issued a public apology to Ms. Randall-Gay today, stating "We were wrong in 2004. We were deceived by Nassar... and when you do something wrong you admit it and you make it better. We let her down and we won't do it again." The investigating officer issued a private apology. He has not been disciplined for his failure to arrest Nassar.
Randall-Gay appreciates their apologies, even though "they're not enough." "It felt good to hear from them and their kindness has been therapeutic for me," she said. "However, I still have a lot of anger towards the situation." The town also paid for her flight from Seattle to Michigan so that she could testify against Nassar.
This police department will be implementing new initiatives for sex crimes investigations. Clearly, better training is in order. Finding reputable medical professionals to assist in these investigations will be essential.
There's plenty of blame to go around in this case. None of it will help the victims. People need to understand that these pedophiles are extremely good liars. They've had a lot of practice. But it's up to law enforcement to conduct proper investigations and not just accept the accused offender's explanation for his crimes.