Listen

MSU Settlement In Nassar Case 'A Great Victory,' Abused Gymnast Says

May 16, 2018
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Gymnast Jeanette Antolin is one of more than 300 sexual abuse victims of the U.S. national team physician Larry Nassar. In 1999, she competed at the Pan American Games, where she helped the U.S. win a team silver medal in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Now she is part of the group that today won a $500 million settlement with Michigan State University, for whom Nassar worked. Jeanette Antolin joins us now. Welcome.

JEANETTE ANTOLIN: Thank you so much.

SHAPIRO: What does this decision today, this settlement mean to you?

ANTOLIN: I think it - I mean, it feels like a great victory for me and my sister survivors. It means that there was an organization that failed all of us, and finally they've stepped up and settled the case.

SHAPIRO: Have you and other survivors been talking today? What have you heard from them?

ANTOLIN: Yeah, we've talked amongst ourselves - a few of us. And we just feel empowered all over again. It's, like - I feel like for so many months, like, people didn't believe us and didn't take us seriously. And finally we've gotten our justice.

SHAPIRO: I know that this happened to you a long time ago. In addition to the Justice and sense of closure, has there been a sense of pain of having to relive so much of this?

ANTOLIN: Extreme amount of pain and frustration of just retelling the story over and over again and having to relive our experiences with Larry and not just with Larry but USA Gymnastics and our experience on the national team. I don't think people realized how traumatic of an experience that it was. And so to have to tell your story to be believed and have some action taken - it's completely trying. And for me, it's almost been two years of this. So it's encouraging that it's coming to an end. And with MSU settling, it's a small weight off my shoulders. But we still have work to do. We still need USA Gymnastics and the USOC to follow in the footsteps of MSU.

SHAPIRO: And as you say, the settlement doesn't address the claims against USA Gymnastics. What do you want to see from them?

ANTOLIN: I want them to take responsibility 'cause they're just as much at fault as MSU. I feel like they were there all along. They had knowledge of what was happening, and they didn't take action to protect the other athletes that could have been protected. I mean, I have sister survivors that were abused after they were told of the abuse. So they need to step up and take responsibility for that.

SHAPIRO: Given the number of different fields where perpetrators are being held accountable and victims are speaking out across the United States and beyond right now, are you optimistic that future generations of young women are not going to have to go through what you went through?

ANTOLIN: Absolutely. I think it's a long road. I think us going through this in the last couple years has empowered a lot of women to stand up and use their voice. It's a wave of women realizing that their voice matters, and they can take their power back. And I think a lot of us sister survivors - we want to see a lot more change in not just USA Gymnastics but amateur sports across the country. We want awareness to be brought to school systems and children and parents so that - we know that obviously we can't catch every single predator, but it will make it a lot harder for them to get away with things like this.

SHAPIRO: That's Jeanette Antolin, a former artistic gymnast who was a member of the U.S. national team from 1995 to 2000. Thank you so much for talking with us today.

ANTOLIN: Of course. Thank you Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.