Larry Nassar, the former doctor for USA gymnastics appeared in Michigan’s Ingham County Circuit Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault for abusing young women—some of them minors—under the ruse that he was performing necessary medical examinations. More than a hundred women have alleged that Nassar abused them while they were under his care, including USA Olympic champions McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Gabby Douglas.
Nassar decided to give a statement in court during the hearing, where he said he has no ill-will towards his accusers, and that he prays for forgiveness.
“I want them to heal,” he said. “I have not animosity towards anyone, I just want healing ….We need to move forward in a sense of growth and healing.”
Nassar also reportedly plans to plead guilty to three additional counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault in Eaton County, Michigan next week, in a case that was scheduled to go to trial in early December.
Sentencing will take place at a separate hearing. Nassar faces 25 to 40 years in prison for each count, and he has agreed to electronic monitoring for the rest of his life. All of his victims will have the opportunity to deliver statements to the court prior to sentencing. Many of these women were in the courtroom on Wednesday, including Rachael Denhollander, whose story gained national attention when she told it to the Indianapolis Star last year. Now 32, Denhollander said Nassar assaulted her when she was just 15. Many others came forward with their own stories after she spoke out.
Denhollander also testified against Nassar at a preliminary hearing.
“I am so grateful to see justice beginning to come for all the victims of Larry Nassar,” she said.
In addition to the criminal charges, more than 140 women filed a civil lawsuit against Nassar as well.