The last two-plus years have seen the unfolding of one of the worst sexual assault cases in recent history. Longtime USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar stands accused of molesting at least 265 girls and women with both the national and Michigan State gymnastics teams over almost a quarter-century, dating back to when he was still in medical school.
Last summer, Nassar pleaded guilty to federal charges of receiving and possessing child pornography, including a video showing him molesting some of his victims. In December, he was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison. His earliest possible release from federal custody will be just a few months before his 106th birthday, virtually assuring that he will die in prison.
In November, he pleaded guilty to two separate indictments in Michigan state court in which he admitted to molesting a total of 10 girls. On January 24, Ingham County circuit judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in state prison. Watch Aquilina dress Nassar down here.
A little more than a week later, Eaton County circuit judge sentenced Nassar to 40 to 125 years in prison, to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in nearby Ingham County. The state sentences will begin in the unlikely event Nassar completes his federal child porn sentence.
For those of you keeping score, Nassar will serve a minimum of 100 years in prison; the only way he’s getting out will be in a pine box. Any doubt that he is responsible for his debauchery should have been erased when Aquilina read a breathtakingly tone-deaf letter written by Nassar, which revealed a man in complete denial of the suffering he’d inflicted. Watch here.
This context is needed to understand a breathtakingly tone-deaf commentary on the Nassar debauchery from right-wing pastor and homeschooling guru Kevin Swanson. He actually suggested that the “immodesty” inherent in gymnastics was in part responsible for Nassar’s rampage.
On Friday’s edition of his daily podcast, “Generations,” Swanson initially seemed to understand the heart of the matter. He blasted the “civil magistrate” for failing to act despite women coming forward as early as 1997. In a colossal understatement, he claimed that Michigan State was in “big trouble” for not doing anything to stop Nassar. He also believes that parents should never allow doctors to see their children alone, particularly when “intimate treatments” are involved.
While a disturbing number of fundies seem to be quick to blame victims for their ordeals, Swanson doesn’t seem to be of that mind. He believes that girls ought to “cry out,” and parents should encourage their daughters to do so.
But then he went off the deep end. He believed this was more evidence of American universities emulating the gymnasiums of ancient Greece, where “pedophilia was part of the deal.”
Later, he mused that some sports lend themselves to debauched behavior. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Swanson said that there is an “infatuation with the body” in sports, particularly in sports that “encourage immodesty” by having participants reveal “large portions of the body.” As Swanson sees it, gymnastics and swimming are particularly “risky sports” for immodesty.
Swanson recalled a devastating series of reports from The Indianapolis Star about rampant sexual abuse by gymnastics coaches. The Star chronicled claims that at least 365 gymnasts claimed to have been molested. It led Swanson to wonder–“Why are all of the gymnasts more of a risk than other sports?” To his mind, the answer was simple.
“Do you really want your daughters involved in a sport that involves a fair amount of immodesty in which red-blooded American male coaches are interacting with these girls? Or, worse yet, where the infatuation of the body eventually effects the lesbian coaches, where you’re getting back to the Greek gymnasium?”
Apparently Swanson must not have been paying attention to Nassar’s history. This is a man who had been aware from his youth that he had sexual urges, and yet didn’t get help for them. A guy with that history would have been a monster regardless of sport–including sports like football, basketball, and baseball, where “immodesty” supposedly doesn’t run as rampant.
In his urge to blame Nassar’s rampage on a supposed larger culture of debauchery in sports, Swanson did something we see all too often from fundies–oversimplify the issue.
(featured image courtesy Generations)