Time and time again, we hear stories in the news of sex abuse scandals wherein dozens, if not hundreds, of victims had been abused for decades, and we ask ourselves: “How could this have gone on for so long?”
The answer is complicated and multifaceted.
Below, our Michigan sex abuse attorneys discuss the systemic factors that allow sexual abusers to avoid justice for years.
Sex abuse has always been rampant. However, the recent #MeToo movement has shed light on these crimes and shown just how prevalent and far-reaching they are.
The #MeToo movement has also demonstrated how sex abuse crimes often have one key element in common: the powerful using their influence to silence their victims.
Whether it’s in a church, a school, a hospital, or somewhere else, many sexual abusers target vulnerable individuals. These individuals may be children, students, people with disabilities, or any other person who may be unable to communicate their abuse, either due to fear of retaliation from their abusers or feelings of powerlessness in their communities.
Additionally, many abusers know they have the power and prestige to act with impunity. They may work for a powerful organization, such as a university or the Catholic Church—organizations that will do whatever they can to protect their reputations, even if it means turning a blind eye or intimidating sex abuse victims into silence.
Examples of such phenomena include the following:
- Religious institutions covering up decades of abuse committed by church officials
- Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics failing to protect students and athletes from abuse at the hands of former physician Larry Nassar
- University of Michigan failing to protect students and athletes from abuse at the hands of former physician Robert E. Anderson
In all of the aforementioned situations, multiple allegations of sexual abuse had been brought to the attention of the institutions’ employees and little was done to mitigate the situation. Often, it wasn’t until years later, once the allegations became more public, that these institutions decided to launch investigations.
At U of M in particular, Anderson remained employed with the university despite the fact that his sexual misconduct was an open secret for decades.
While Anderson was allegedly fired in 1979 for “fooling around with male students,” he still remained with the university for two more decades. After being “fired,” or rather, moved to another position in the Athletic Department in 1980, he was allowed access to athletes who needed mandatory physicals or treatment.
We know that, from the 1960s to the 2000s, Anderson’s conduct was well-known among wrestlers and the wrestling team, football players, football staff, athletic trainers, and coaches.
Athletes in these sports were mandated to go see Anderson as part of their training and were made to feel as though they could not speak up against the abuse, almost as if it was “a rite of passage.” Athletes also knew their scholarships were in jeopardy if they did not remain quiet about the abuse.
At Grewal Law PLLC, we make it our mission to hold sexual abusers accountable for their heinous crimes, long before it becomes “convenient” for the institutions that employ them to do so.
We represented one-third of the first wave of plaintiffs in the Larry Nassar case and achieved a $500 million settlement for them. We know what it takes to obtain justice in situations like these, and we’re to help you through it.
Contact Grewal Law PLLC today at (888) 211-5798 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with our team.