More than 150 women stood up and exposed Larry Nassar's unforgivable crimes to the world.

The women who bravely faced Larry Nassar in court deserve our respect and attention for changing the course of a criminal tragedy people were too willing to ignore.

Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after their testimony dramatically changed the course of his sentencing hearing. He'll spend the rest of his life behind bars thanks to their courageous actions.

Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics national team physician, had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of child pornography. His crimes are major news but weren't receiving significant attention until so many women — more than 150 — came before a judge to offer personal statements against him.


Because of them, he now faces up to 175 years in light of sexual assault charges.

The statements of well-known figures, including gold-medal-winning gymnast Kayla Maroney, have helped bring renewed attention to the 54-year-old Michigan doctor's hearing.

Image via CBS News/YouTube.

Two-time Olympian Aly Raisman also added her voice, saying in her statement:

"Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well, you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only just beginning to use them."

Nassar tried to avoid hearing those statements in the courtroom, but the judge wasn't having it.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ensured every woman had a safe platform to be heard. "It is so important what you've done," Aquilina told 16-year-old Chelsea Zerfas. "I am so very proud of you. This doesn't define you. This strengthens you."

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina speaks to Larry Nassar. Image via MLive/YouTube.

The statements made by Zerfas and so many others brought attention and accountability to a system that allowed Nassar to stay in power even as more than a dozen Michigan State University staffers allegedly knew of his abuses going back to 1992 but did nothing.

Each day brought another shocking revelation about a system that protected Nassar.

Before giving her statement to the court, Maroney filed a lawsuit alleging that USA Gymnastics paid her a "confidentially agreement" to not discuss the Nassar allegations in public. The organization eventually put out a statement assuring that she would not face any fines or other retribution for speaking out against Nassar.

One teen gymnast revealed she was even still being billed for medical appointments with Nassar despite accusing him of sexual abuse. 15-year-old Emma Ann Miller told the courtroom:

"My mom is still getting billed for appointments where I was sexually assaulted. Are you listening MSU? I can't hear you. Are you listening?"

Miller's bravery led MSU officials to announce that Nassar's former patients will no longer be billed for visits. The university is also reviewing whether to reimburse past patients who had already paid for services billed.

Nassar will now spend the rest of his life behind bars.

And the women who stood up to speak out against him have challenged us all to help ensure crimes like this never again stay hidden for so long.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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