Michigan courtrooms heard the testimonies of 160 women in the week leading up to Jan. 24th, all in connection to a single trial: the conviction of Dr. Larry Nassar. His career began in 1978 when he worked as a student athletic trainer receiving a varsity letter in women’s artistic gymnastics at North Farmington High School in Detroit.
Nassar spent his entire career in Michigan, receiving an undergraduate degree in kinesiology and an osteopathic medical degree from Michigan State University (MSU), completing his residency at St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing and finally a primary care sports medicine fellowship. He worked for MSU and USA Gymnastics. On July 11, 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges.
Jan. 24, 2018, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, after hearing the words of the many victims, sentenced Larry Nassar to 175 years in prison.
The testimonies pierced the ears of every viewer as 156 young women shared their accounts of Nassar’s assault. Two olympians, Jamie Dantzscher and Aly Raisman, came forward showing that Nassar’s scope of victims was deeply intertwined with U.S. gymnastics.
At the hearings, Dantzcher looked Nassar in the eyes as she said, “Your days of manipulation are over.”
Raisman followed by saying, “You have not taken gymnastics away from me. I love this sport, and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you.”
The only non-medical testimony came from Kyle Stephens, former Nassar family friend, who was assaulted from ages six to 12 by Nassar. She was the first victim to testify. Stephens delivered her powerful accounts of Nassar’s assault and went over the repeated and horrendous sexual assaults she has survived.
When she was 12, Stephens told her parents about the acts ,and they confronted Nassar. However, he, as a trusted adult family friend, convinced them that they were false allegations. He proceeded to enter into her home and tell her that if anyone had done that to her, she should tell someone. The pain led to years of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and family distress for Stephens. In 2016, her father committed suicide after finding his daughter’s stories to be true.
As she continues to mend her years of trauma and her fractured relationship with her mother, Stephens is relieved to see her perpetrator get what he deserves. In her testimony, she shook the walls of the court room by directly addressing Nassar and saying, “Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
As the public begins to settle with the painful voices of these women, many news media companies are seeking to further the stories and encourage other victims of sexual assault to reach out. Raisman has become a focal point of the campaign for her leadership on the national stage and in the sport of gymnastics.
In a recent interview with US Magazine, Raisman said, “You know what, someone brought this up the other day and they said he’s going to jail for almost like a year for each survivor, so when you put it in that perspective, it’s really not enough.” She went on to say: “It would be like for the abuse he did there’s been so many girls that have come forward. It’s like he got one year for each person, like that’s not enough, you know what I mean?”
This sentencing came a week after the anniversary of the Women’s March, the largest single day protest in U.S. history. The emotions communicated in the testimonies of the many victims brought the weight of agony and frustration, hate and condemnation down upon the head of Nassar.
These testimonies were all heard, considered and brought to justice when Judge Aquilina powerfully delivered her verdict: “I’ve just signed your death warrant,” sentencing Nassar to 40-157 years in prison.