More than a dozen women gave statements in court today about the sexual abuse that they endured at the hands of former U.S.A. gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar. Currently in jail on child pornography charges, Nassar has pled guilty and is now awaiting sentencing on 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The total number of reported victims exceeds 150.
The first woman to speak today was Jamie Dantzscher, who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics.
“People didn’t believe me, even people who thought were my friends... They called me a liar, a whore... Instead of backing down, I continued to speak my truth,” Dantzcher said of first speaking out about Nassar’s abuse in 2016. “You knew I was powerless. You pretended to be my friend. How dare you ask for our forgiveness? We all see through your bullshit. You are only sorry that you got caught.... You are pure evil.”
Next was a statement from gold medalist McKayla Maroney, read by prosecutors. She wrote that the scariest night of her life occurred when Nassar gave her a sleeping pill on an all-night flight to Tokyo and she awoke to him giving her a “treatment” in his hotel room. She was 15 years old at the time.
“I got to the Olympics, reached my dreams. But not without a price,” the statement read. “A question that has been asked over and over again is how did this happen for so long to so many young women? Lies in Michigan State, the USAG and the US Olympic Committee.”
Though the settlement that officials had Maroney sign to keep her experience with Nassar quiet mandated a $100,000 fine if she spoke publicly about her abuse, USA Gymnastics announced yesterday that it will not apply that fine or seek any other money from her for speaking out.
Another gymnast, Lindsey Lemke, specifically called out Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon, who attended only a portion of yesterday’s proceedings and was not present today. She said that she didn’t know how Simon had been able to remain in her role at the university:“You said your schedule wouldn’t allow you to come back to court today, but we didn’t have the time for sleepless nights, therapy sessions and all the fallout that has come as a result of being abused.”
Former high school athlete Nicole Reeb shared two decades of battling with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from sexual abuse by Nassar that began when she was a teenager. She said that she repressed the memories of being violated for years, using alcohol to self-medicate and suffering from what she described as several mental breakdowns before she finally grappled with what Nassar had done to her when news of his abuse first broke. “I have spent my entire adult life clawing my way through the aftermath of sexual abuse at the hands of Larry Nassar,” the Michigan State graduate said.
Another gutting account came from 16-year-old gymnast Arianna Guerrero:
“You Larry, turned a sport I loved into one I hate... I hate you so much,” she said. “I am only 16. I should not even know what an impact statement is. I shouldn’t know what the inside of a court room looks like. You have a hard time looking at me now, but not when I was on your table, half naked.”
Several victims chose to remain anonymous, including two who described not understanding that they had been abused until they read the Indianapolis Star’s initial reporting on Nassar. One, who is currently 19 years old, said that Nassar abused her as a teenager in his basement, while his wife and children were upstairs:
Though a sentence was initially expected to be handed down tomorrow, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina suggested that it’s more likely to come early next week, with many victims still available to speak.