Everything that happened at Larry Nassar’s sentence hearing
A total of 156 victims spoke at his sentence hearing over seven days
Last week, survivors of Larry Nassar came together in the courtroom of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to share statements of abuse and personal strength. Larry Nassar is facing sentencing for seven counts of sexual assault and has already been convicted for three counts of child pornography.
The sentencing was expected to last four days, with 88 victims making statements. As the days went on, more and more victims stepped forward to speak.
The number of young women who came forward to speak reached 158, and took place over the course of seven days. After each statement, Judge Aquilina has addressed the victims personally, encouraging them to stay strong, to continue healing and fighting, and reminding them that their voices are important.
Here's everything that happened.
Tuesday, January 16th, 2018
The first victim to speak is Kyle Stephens, a family friend of Nassar and his family, and the only non-medical victim to come forward. She began by telling the courtroom about the abuse she had experienced in detail, saying "Without my knowledge or consent, I had my first sexual interaction by kindergarten."
My heart just broke for Kyle Stevens (and of course ALL of them)… As a mother, I do not understand how any parent would NOT believe their child! https://t.co/VSG3L3QpUy
— Susan Decker (@suziduzy) January 25, 2018
At the age of twelve, she told her parents, who confronted Nassar.
He convinced Stephens' family that she was lying, and a rift began to form between her and her parents. It wasn't until the age of eighteen, when she told them again, that they believed her. Her family was put through more strain as they realized what pain she had experienced, her father commiting suicide in 2016.
Stephens has worked hard to bring justice to what Nassar had done. "I have been coming for you a long time," she said, addressing Nassar directly. "I’ve told counselors your name in hopes they would report you. I’ve told your name to Child Protective Services twice. I gave a testament to get your medical license revoked. You were first arrested on my charges."
She delivered one of the most quoted lines from the victim statements: "Perhaps you have figured this out by now, but little girls don't stay little forever. They grow into strong women who return to destroy your world."
Donna Markham came up to speak on the behalf of her daughter, Chelsey Markham, who committed suicide after being abused by Nassar. Throughout her statement, Markham was holding back tears. After falling off of a beam at the age of twelve, they had gone to Nassar to help treat the injuries.
He abused her, and she confided in her mother once they reached the car. At thirteen, Chelsey competed at a meet in Lansing. Nassar had attended, and after seeing him, she performed horribly. She quit gymnastics after this meet, telling her mother "I can't do this anymore because every time I see him I just flashback to what happened in his office."
"It will be 10 years in March that I lost my baby," Donna Markham said. "She was 23 years old. And every day I miss her. Every day. And it all started with him."
Victim Olivia Cowan states Michigan State University enabled decades of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar. See our full investigation into MSU's culpability coming up at 12:30 ET on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/8PAdyAcYGy
— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) January 16, 2018
Olivia Cowan described herself as a "tank on empty". She described how Nassar's abuse has prevented her from trusting people, from seeing the good in people, and finding peace of mind. She struggles to get a good nights sleep; her dreams are plagued by flashbacks of her abuse. She faces anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.
She said, "My deepest pain and fear was the thought of my two young daughters ever being hurt like this. The fear that it invoked is crippling. I was unable to send my children to daycare due to the paralyzing anxiety I was experiencing. And birthday parties, sleepovers, large crowds of people, steal the joy of making memories with my family." She continued to talk about her inability to trust people in her life, including herself and her abilities as a mother.
"These feelings don't just stem from the abuse of Larry Nassar, as if the struggle of what Larry Nassar did isn't bad enough," Cowan said. "Ot's horrifying that MSU and USA Gymnastics are not stepping up to the plate to admit their wrongdoing."
"I want MSU and USAG to know that what they have done is on the very same level of accountability as the crime Nassar has committed," Olivia said. "I strongly believe that MSU and USAG's inaction places an accountability on them for Nassar's access to minor which led to the sexual abuse."
Jennifer Bedford was assaulted when she was part of MSU's volleyball team. She like others, attempted to file a complaint on Nassar.
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) January 16, 2018
She was informed by her coach that this was going to be taken seriously and would put him under investigation for sexual assault. She decided not to go through with it, but promised herself that if he made her uncomfortable again, she would "dropkick him in the face."
What may be Nassar's earliest victim, known only as Jane Doe previous to the trial, also spoke at his sentence hearing. “We were all armed with nothing but dreams,” she said. He wasn't a doctor yet; he was 28 years old, in medical school at MSU.
He invited her to his apartment under the guise of a study on flexibility, where he had her strip nude, and assaulted her.
As the statements continue, a few distinct patterns began to show. The medical victims were told one of few things: they were going to encounter a "treatment" that would help them with the pain they were experiencing
He did many of these "treatments" ungloved. He made sure to gain the patient and the patient's mother's trust before doing anything. So much so, that many of the patients did not realize that they had been assaulted until the news of his allegations broke in 2016. He often assaulted patients with their mothers in the room, positioning himself in between mother and daughter so that they could not see.
Wednesday, January 17th, 2018
— OU Daily Sports (@OUDailySports) January 19, 2018
Gina Nichols, mother of Maggie Nichols, a former gymnast of the US national team and close friend of sister victim, Olympian Simone Biles, read a statement on her daughters abuse, a statement that was also publicly given. She then recounted her own experiences, describing the guilt she felt after learning that her daughter was assaulted and she had been unable to protect her.
She addressed directly, telling him about the differences between his practices and those of a real doctor. She said he was not a doctor, but a monster. As a medical professional, she described the practices that her and her husband (a doctor) follow, and how unethical Nassar's practice was.
Another former national gymnast, Jeanette Antolin, said that she is glad that the view of sexual abuse in the gymnastics community will be forever changed and that "The little girls you took advantage of so easily have now come back to haunt you."
"Nobody was looking out for our best interests," says Jeanette Antolin, a gymnast who was abused by team doctor Larry Nassar. Clip from our show today: https://t.co/2TEqP5o8z6
— On Point – NPR (@OnPointRadio) January 26, 2018
Former gymnast Gwen Anderson fought back tears throughout her statement. She had planned on speaking anonymously, but at the last minute, decided to be public — something many victims did as the statements continued.
She discussed how realizing that her "treatments" had been abuse affected her ability as a middle school teacher, and how she felt as though it was her duty to protect those children from harm. Her coach, Tom Brennan, stood behind her in support of her.
After Anderson had finished, Judge Aquilina allowed Brennan to speak. He talked about the guilt he felt once the news of Nassar's allegations broke He had been in medical school with Nassar, and had referred many gymnasts to him. He said that "he must have sent hundreds of girls" to Nassar and he now had to carry that pain with him. He ended his statement by telling Nassar to "go to hell."
After being called out for not attending the first day of sentencing, former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon came to the second day's afternoon session of sentencing.
Some of the victims who have come forward, particularly the younger girls, were abused after the formal investigation in 2014 began.
Thursday, January 18th, 2018
Nassar sent a six page, single spaced letter to the judge, in which he expressed his concern over his mental ability to withstand extended time listening to victim statements, calling the, at the time, four day sentencing a "media circus" and accusing Judge Aquilina of allowing this.
Nassar also accused Aquilina of making him sit in the witness box so that the cameras could be focused on her. She responded with "I don't need any cameras… I don't have a dog in this fight sir. You orchestrated this with your actions." She added at the end, "Nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands, collectively."
"Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you have had at their expense and ruining their lives," Judge Aquilina continued. "None of this should come as a surprise to you."
The first speaker of the day was Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medal winner in the 2000 Olympic Games. After the Olympics and college, Dantzscher struggled with eating disorders and severe depression, even attempting suicide.
She could not understand why she was dealing with so much pain and hardship. It wasn't until early 2016, when she spoke to another Olympic gymnast who had been assaulted by her trainer, that she was able to realize that the "treatments" Nassar had performed on her were not actually medical.
When Dantzcher came forward about her assault in 2016, she was attacked on social media and by people close to her.
"How dare you ask any of us for forgiveness?" She asked Nassar. "We've got the power now….I now can finally say I am truly proud of myself for something I've done related to my elite gymnastics career."
Immediately afterword, a representative read a statement on the behalf of 2012 Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney.
— Andrew Cunningham (@atom_alarms) January 29, 2018
Maroney's statement began by discussing her dreams to go to the Olympics. "I did it. I got there, but not without a price," her statement reads.
She was around the age of 13 when the abuse began, and it did not stop until she quit gymnastics. She said, "It seemed that whenever and wherever this man had the chance, I was 'treated'."
Maroney recounts her scariest night, when the team was on a flight to Tokyo. Nassar had given her a sleeping pill for the flight, and when she woke, she was alone, in his hotel room, receiving a "treatment".
"I thought I was going to die that night," Maroney wrote. She asked for Nassar to receive the maximum sentence.
Lindesy Lemke, whose mother spoke on the first day of sentencing, decided to speak for herself.
She said of former coach Kathie Klages, "I am disgusted by you." Klages allegedly discouraged athletes not to report their assault as they and Nassar would face negative consequences.
“To Lou Anna Simon,” she said. “I don’t even know how you are still in the position that you are in. I don’t know how you can still call yourself a president, because I don’t anymore. You are no president of mine as a student and former athlete of Michigan State University. Guess what? You are a coward too."
She condemned Lou Anna's blanket apology, lack of action and emotion, and the fact that she still hasn't taken responsibility. She said, "Please stop and save yourself the pity party."
Founder of #MeTooMSU, Jessica Smith, saw Nassar for a sprained ankle. While she was uncomfortable with her treatment, it wasn't until years later that she recognized this as assault.
Inspired by the recent #MeToo on Twitter, Smith created #MeTooMSU for the victims of Nassar, eventually expanding it to victims of sexual assault at MSU. She also spoke of Simon's lack of action to keep the campus safe and brought up MSU staff who were informed of Nassar's actions and helped to keep it quiet.
On this day, it was confirmed that Lou Anna K Simon was informed in 2014 that an investigation of sexual misconduct was being conducted on one of the schools sports medicine doctors.
Friday, January 19th, 2018
Gold medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games, Jordyn Wieber, spoke about her personal experience with Nassar for the first time publicly. She said that he had gained her and her teammates trust, bringing them food and coffee. Looking back, she believes that these were all grooming techniques.
Former Olympians Aly Raisman and Jordan Wieber made statements in the sentencing hearing of their former doctor. https://t.co/izsRarhkx0
— 620 WJDX (@620WJDX) January 20, 2018
After encountering abuse, she discussed the treatments with her teammates McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman, all agreeing that they were uncomfortable. She, like many others, criticized USA Gymnastics and MSU for their lack of action throughout the abuse, and their failure to protect her and her teammates.
Nassar's office was covered in photos of famous Olympians he had helped, including Kerri Strug, a 1996 Olympian who competed on an injured foot, a foot that Nassar had taped up. These photos of girls' idols, filled his patients with a sense of awe and trusting, only making it easier for him to abuse his patients.
Former MSU gymnastics team manager, Amy Labadie, spoke about her experiences with Nassar. She was first abused by him at the age of sixteen, with her mother and gymnastics coach in the room.
She contracted a bacterial infection because of his actions. During the time she was managing the team, she would see him regularly. After learning of Michigan State's lack of action, Labadie said that she "is no longer proud to have graduated at MSU."
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 28, 2018
Aly Raisman, spoke later that day. Raisman originally was not going to speak, saying she was "scared and nervous", and even tweeted that her statement would be read aloud in the courtroom without her there.
She later decided to come to the sentencing in person and read her statement herself, after hearing from other survivors through the week.
She addressed Nassar directly, telling him he "betrayed the trust of us, and our families." She brings up his letter, telling him "You are pathetic in thinking anyone would have sympathy for you. You think this is hard for you? Imagine how all of us feel."
She chided the Olympic committee and USA Gymnastics on their easy ability to piggy back on her success, but silence toward her when she came forward about her abuse. She discussed how change for the future is necessary, and how organizations must understand the situation to prevent anything like this for happening again.
Trinea Gonzcar was a friend of Nassar and his family, and is one of his earlier victims. Her abuse beginning around 1990 in his home.
She attended his wedding, befriended his wife, Stephanie Nassar, and trusted him wholeheartedly. So much so that when friends came to her with doubts about their treatments, she explained to them that these treatments were normal, and that she had them done regularly too.
It was only this week that she was forced to decide whether she would support him, or the other girls he had assaulted. "I choose them Larry," she said. "I choose to love them and protect them."
The last speaker of the day is Larissa Boyce — the first known victim to report to an MSU faculty member.
She went into detail about the abuse she had experienced, and the defeat and discomfort she felt for four years. She pushed aside the discomfort because he was a renowned doctor, like many other victims had, and trained herself to trust him.
She criticized MSU for silencing her voice, not just once, but multiple times. In 1997, Larissa and a fellow teammate brought their concerns about Larry Nassar to Kathie Klages on a night of abuse. Klages interrogated the girls instead of reporting to the university, or even the girls' parents. She led them to believe that they were misunderstanding a medical technique.
Friday evening, President Simon sent an email to the entire Michigan State student body on the topic of the Nassar case. She writes (somewhat ironically) that investigations are being done to find and prosecute any MSU faculty that knowingly remained inactive during, or helped cover up Nassar's abuse. She states that she has set aside a $10 million fund to help victims of Larry Nassar. She also announced that MSU has civil suits filed against it, and that the lawyers' defense may seem insensitive to the victims, "for whom we have the utmost respect and sympathy" and that the defense is not representative of MSU's beliefs.
Monday, January 22nd, 2018
The first speaker is Bailey Lorencen, a 22-year-old, who first met Nassar when she was in fourth grade. He gained her trust, apparently sharing her anger at Twistars coach, John Geddert, after he forced her to continue practice after she broke her neck in four places.
In ninth grade, she was put into a back brace for a year, and went to Nassar for regular treatments. She was one of many girls at Twistars in a back brace. Lorencen's back never healed, and Nassar told her to quit gymnastics, so that she could heal properly. Lorencen described hearing that as "music to my ears." She was freed from the abuse of both Geddert and Nassars.
Perhaps Nassar's last victim, 15-year-old Emma Ann Miller, last saw him in August of 2016, soon before he was arrested. She stood at the podium with her mom by her side, rubbing her arm.
Miller has known Nassar as long as she can remember, and looked to him as a father figure. She had her first appointment with him at the age of ten, with a back injury, and began to see him monthly. As Miller pauses to collect herself, her mother whispers, "You're doing great."
"Larry Nassar, I hate you," she said addressing him directly. She called out MSU's lack of action, saying "Your 20 year child molesting employee, is a burden I shouldn't have to bear." Miller's statement is angry, snappy, confident, sarcastic. She discusses how she can still be a Spartan, "still support Miles Bridges" and still hold MSU accountable for its actions.
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018
Sixteen year old Natalie Woodland, saw Nassar both before and after the 2014 investigation. She said that "no protocols had changed" and that she was abused again. She said that MSU protected its money and reputation instead of the victims.
Michigan State Rowing Team alumna, Amanda McGeachie, explained how Nassar preyed on the vulnerable, and those desperate to heal and continue with their respective sports. She is ashamed to have represented MSU, and that the institution has failed her and all the other victims.
She said to Nassar, "We are strong, and you are nothing. We are powerful, and you are powerless. We will destroy you, like you tried to destroy us."
Wednesday, January 24th, 2018
The last three victim statements are read and the sentencing begins. The NCAA announced that they were launching an investigation to see if any policy violations had occurred.
A total of 156 statements have been read or listened to. Prior to the sentencing, Aquilina read more of the letter that Nassar sent the judge earlier. In it, it read "I was a good doctor because my treatments worked, and those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over," Nassar wrote. "The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." The letter "tells me you still don't get it," Aquilina said before tossing the letter to the side.
This GIF of Judge Aquilina throwing away the letter Larry Nassar wrote the court about how hard it is for him to listen to victim testimonies PRETTY MUCH SAYS IT ALL. pic.twitter.com/5HB9WMaPqU
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) January 24, 2018
Prior to the sentencing, Nassar read a statement saying "Your words have had a significant impact on myself and have shaken me to my core." His words are stiff and forced. They contradicts his lack of emotion throughout the majority of victim statements. When asked if he was guilty, he said "I said my plea."
"It is my privilege on counts 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, and 18 and 24 to sentence you to 40 years," Judge Aquilina said. Aquilina sentenced Nassar to a total of 175 years, or 2100 months. This, combined with his 60 years in a federal prison, puts him at a grand total of 235 years of prison time, equivalent to about ten years per victim.
"I just signed your death warrant… I find that you don't get it. You're a danger," Aquilina adds, telling him she does not see rehabilitation as a possibility for Nassar. He will be required to register as a sex offender, and undergo HIV testing, the results of which will be released to the public. He will not be find, instead his money going to restitution for the victims.
Just hours after the sentencing, MSU Athletic Council Chair resigned, just days after saying that MSU had failed the victims in this case.
Late Wednesday night, Lou Anna K Simon officially resigned from her position as MSU's president, in a statement saying that she is proud of her work, and "As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger."