The Vanguard

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Everyone has an obligation to report abuse

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Society’s silence allowed Nassar’s predation
to continue.

Society’s silence allowed Nassar’s predation to continue.

Briana Cunningham

Briana Cunningham

Society’s silence allowed Nassar’s predation to continue.

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Former Michigan State University and U.S. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes on Jan. 24, according to the New York Times. This marks the end of decades of sexual predation. However, Nassar was able to continue to prey upon women and girls because mandated reporters who were aware of the abuse said nothing. According to nbcnews. com, multiple people, including people legally obligated to report any suspected instance of abuse, knew that there were allegations of sexual assault against Nasser.

Some of the people who knew about the sexual assault allegations were mandated reporters.

Mandated reporters are certain individuals – such as coaches – who are always required to report any known or suspected cases of child abuse, according to Michigan state law.

Several women and girls said they reported incidences of sexual assault to MSU staff coaches Kathie Klages, Kelli Bert and Destiny Teachnor-Hauk as early as 1997, according to nbcnews.com. Some of the coaches deny anyone ever reported sexual assault to them.

While Nasser is the only person responsible for Nasser’s actions, anyone who knew or suspected sexual assault and said nothing tacitly allowed that assault to continue. Considering the gravity of the crimes, one would think that the penalty for a mandated reporter failing to report a case of known or suspected abuse would be severe.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, a mandated reporter who does not report a case of suspected abuse can face several penalties.

“Mandated reporters who fail to file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect will be subject to both civil and criminal liability,” the Michigan DHHS website states. “In a civil action, the mandated reporter may be held liable for all damages that any person suffers due to the mandated reporters failure to file a report. In a criminal action, the mandated reporter may be found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days and a fine of $500.”

These penalties are not severe enough. If someone who knew about the women and girls’ allegations spoke up and reported them as required by law, many women and girls would not have been victimized by him. The civil penalties are nebulous, and the criminal penalties are laughably light in of the scope of the damage one man has wrought.

If you are tempted to turn a blind eye, think about the countless lives one man has ruined because others, if they knew, remained silent.

Mandated reporters are not the only people who should have the burden of reporting known or suspected cases of sexual abuse. Everyone should report known or suspected cases of abuse because that is the bare minimum of basic human decency.

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