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Court continues Wednesday at 9 a.m. EST in the sentencing hearing of Lawrence Nassar. A total of 88 people are expected to give victim impact statements about how he, as a doctor for U.S. Gymnastics and Michigan State University, misused his position to sexually abuse women and girls.
Survivor Kyle Stephens was first to speak. Her family were friends with Nassar and his wife. She said the doctor abused her for six years, starting when she was age six. Stephens tried to step forward with her allegations at 12, but her parents didn’t believe her. It created a rift between her and her family. Her father eventually saw the truth, she said, but the pain of having doubted her contributed to his suicide in 2016. With all that in mind, Stephens voiced no mercy for Nassar.
“Little girls don’t stay little forever,” Stephens said. “They return as strong women to destroy your world.”
That set the pace for Tuesday’s hearing. Like her, the other survivors said Nassar took advantage of them.
Survivor Annette Hill, who saw the defendant some years back because of knee problem, said he sexually assaulted her. The incident left her with suicidal feelings, she said.
“He broke me,” said Danielle Moore. “He stole my innocence.”
Former MSU volleyball player Jennifer Rood Bedford said Nassar molested her during what was supposed to be a medical procedure. The incident left her blaming herself.
“Growing up in the culture, with little experience of my own, I assumed that something like what happened to me would only happened if I wanted it to,” she said.
Other victims also took MSU to task. They said the school should’ve done more to stop Nassar.
“Shame on you for looking the other way,” Olivia Cowan said.
“Michigan State University must take accountability in their absence in putting an end to this abuse scandal,” said Nicole Soos. “MSU recently stated that no one affiliated with their university quote ‘believed that Nassar abused anyone until the news articles in 2016.’ Well, there’s a difference between no believing and something seeming unbelievable. Either way, they had the knowledge of the abuse, and their duty was to report it and take action. If this had been properly addressed, I wouldn’t be here talking to you today. Something has gone severely wrong at MSU. They have ignored us.”
MSU spokesperson Jason Cody sent Law&Crime an email addressing this on Tuesday. The statement voiced sympathy for the women, but denied wrongdoing.
“We want to say again that we are truly sorry for the abuse Nassar’s victims suffered, the pain it caused and the pain it continues to cause,” he wrote. “But as we have said previously, any suggestion that the university covered up Nassar’s horrific conduct is simply false. Nassar preyed on his victims, changing their lives in terrible ways.”
140 women and girls are suing the school in federal court, saying that officials should’ve done more to stop Nassar.
This disgraced doctor is scheduled to finally be sentenced on Friday. Prosecutors asked for a sentence between 40 and 125 years in prison after Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. A federal judge sentenced him in December to a 60-year prison sentence for child porn charges. Nassar also pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County. The sentencing for that case is set for January 31.
Stay with Law&Crime.com and the Law&Crime Network for continuing coverage of the hearing.
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