“I want to ask you as a part of this sentencing to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon. Would you do that? Yes or no? Would you give me one minute? Well, I am going to have to give it to myself then!”
At that moment, Randall Margraves charged Larry Nassar in an attempt to exact revenge for the horrors Nassar put Margraves' three daughters through.
All three were molested by Nassar, and Margraves was in court to support their statements against the accused, and hopefully get even more time added to his sentence (even though, due to a previous case in another jurisdiction, Nassar has already been sentenced to enough years in prison that he'll spend the rest of his life in jail). Understandably, Margraves wasn’t able to contain his anger and ended up charging at Nassar, who was on the other side of the courtroom. As he made his charge there was a collective gasp.
A lot of us hoped Margraves would actually get his hands on Nassar, and he nearly did.
As court security restrained him, I couldn’t help rooting for the vengeful father to get the “one minute” he demanded. However, in seconds he was rightfully subdued and escorted out of the courtroom. He hadn’t gotten his revenge, but he had tried. It was a sad moment, yet there was somehow hope and love as a part of it.
However, the father should never have been in that situation. Nassar — enabled by the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University — abused his position of power to molest hundreds of girls.
The problems here are numerous, but let’s start with the fact that USA Gymnastics, the USOC, and Michigan State keep their programs going largely through brand recognition, donations, and sponsorships. That means they have a motive to avoid anything that hurts their brand, and they all knew that someone molesting young athletes is surely bad publicity. So, they all ignored accusations, until they couldn't be ignored anymore.
Now that Nassar’s horrors have been exposed, resignations have started in all of the organizations that enabled his abuses. Even this has its troubles, though: While these are the monsters who enabled the abuse, they also know how they enabled the abuses and where the organization’s blind spots are that need to be filled. If the slate is merely wiped clean, it is likely that some creep in the future will again weasel their way into these organizations and abuse the same loopholes, blind spots, and incentives to protect the organization that enabled Nassar.
Maybe as new people are hired they could have an addendum to their contracts added that if they are found to enable any abuse that they will need to spend Margraves’ 5 minutes with the parents of the offended athletes. But, while this would likely be an effective deterrent, it probably would never be allowed.
However, a solution that would be allowed would be to change what the leaders of these organizations are insured and protected against. Give these parents one moment in court with them. Expose their pocketbooks.
In large organizations like the ones that allowed these abuses, the leaders and boards are all protected by insurance, and they are protected by their contracts. One quick amendment could change everything. All that needs to be added is a line that insurance doesn’t protect anyone who ignores criminal behavior like molestation. Then the profit motive of the organization to hide the abuse will be overcome by the motivations of the organization’s leadership to protect themselves.
Legally, it wasn’t right for the dad to charge the stand. That doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that this kind of systematic abuse never happens again. What matters is that steps are taken to stop any future abuse. Some may say that nobody will volunteer to run these organizations if this new addendum is added. Let me be the first to volunteer. I have several daughters in gymnastics, I would be more than happy to make sure that no monster is allowed to continue their monstrous behavior.
Margraves was not punished, while Nassar was sentenced to more years in jail than he will survive. We can only hope that each of those years are hard years, because we can’t do anything more about his actions. But we can do something about the future protection of these athletes, and that is going to take action and most importantly removing the incentives for organizations to hide atrocities.
Charles Sauer (@CharlesSauer) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is president of the Market Institute and previously worked on Capitol Hill, for a governor, and for an academic think tank. He is also author of the forthcoming book "Profit Motive: What Drives the Things We Do".
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