Victims of disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar confronted him at a sentencing hearing with gut-wrenching emotional accounts of the trauma and scars stemming from his sexual abuse.
More than 100 victims have come forward, including his one-time family babysitter and athletes in several women’s sports programs at Michigan State University, where he worked.The women have spoken of the profound consequences of his abuse – such as struggling with depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide, and of parents suffering with guilt.
Nassar, 54, has pleaded guilty to a total of 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in two counties in Michigan, and could face life in prison. Nassar already faces 60 years in prison after being convicted of child pornography charges.
His victims of sexual abuse under the guise of medical treatment were members of the Olympic gold-medal winning gymnastics team including stars such as Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.
“You used my body for six years for your own sexual gratification,” Kyle Stephens, Nassar’s former babysitter, told a hushed Lansing, Michigan, courtroom. “That is unforgivable.”
Addressing the slight, bespectacled Nassar directly, Stephens said: “Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
Raisman faced down the disgraced national team doctor, calling him “sick” and demanding an independent probe to find out how he was apparently able to abuse young girls for years with impunity.
“You are so sick. I can’t even comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you,” Raisman, now 23, told the court in Michigan, where Nassar has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct. He faces life in prison.
Raisman’s statements came shortly after her 2012 Olympic teammate Jordyn Wieber publicly revealed for the first time that she also had been abused by Nassar, starting from age 14.
“The hardest thing I ever had to do is process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar,” said a noticeably nervous Wieber, who is now 22.
Biles, the reigning all-around champion from the Rio Games in 2016, and Jamie Dantzscher, who competed in Sydney in 2000 and took home a bronze medal, have also revealed that they were abused.
Dressed in blue prison garb, Nassar spent most of the time looking down as the women and girls spoke, occasionally holding his head in his handcuffed hands or wiping away tears.
Some victims chose to be identified and testify publicly while others spoke anonymously.
Among those who testified was Donna Markham, the mother of former gymnast Chelsea Markham, who was abused by Nassar from the age of 10. A tearful Markham said her daughter quit gymnastics when she was 13, suffered from depression and took her own life in 2009.
With AFP inputs