Larry Nassar case could encourage other survivors to come forward

Local advocate: 'This has been exemplary'

SAN ANTONIO – It was a victory for his victims and perhaps others.

After 156 survivors of his abuse confronted him in court, speaking openly of the pain he had caused them, former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison by a Michigan judge on seven counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Members of local organizations supporting sexual violence survivors think the case may encourage other survivors to come forward.

"I really think that this has been exemplary to others that may find themselves in the same situation so that they know that they will be supported, that they will be believed, above all," said Marta Pelaez, president and CEO of Family Violence Prevention Services.

The survivors' courage and Nassar's sentencing come amid a wave of other allegations against high-profile figures and the "Me Too" movement.

"This case, in particular, being so high profile and given current events, is a huge step forward in creating spaces for survivors to be heard — more importantly, to be listened to and believed," said Andrea Lopez, community engagement coordinator for The Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio.

While the case could provide hope to other survivors, it may also be a warning to those who would prey sexually on others.

"I firmly believe that this case will again bring light and will foreground that this kind of violation, sexual violence in any form, is not acceptable. It's not ok. It will be identified and called out for what it is, and there are punishments and consequences to be had for those who perpetrate," Lopez said.

Because even when the perpetrator is prosecuted, like Nassar, it can never be a full measure of justice for victims.

"So his life is gone for all practical purposes," Pelaez said of Nassar. "There is very small consolation for all of the lives that were impacted, damaged and affected in such big ways."

If you are a victim of sexual violence, you can contact either of these organizations for assistance:

Rape Crisis Center


24-Hour Hotline: 210-349-7273


Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc., Battered Women & Children's Shelter


Phone: 210-733-8810

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