In a Lansing, Michigan, courtroom on Tuesday, young women began confronting Larry Nassar, the disgraced doctor for USA Gymnastics who stands accused of sexual assault by dozens of athletes, including Simon Biles, the latest member of Team USA gymnastics to come forward with allegations of molestation.
Several women made victim impact statements in court as Nassar’s sentencing hearing got underway. In November, the doctor pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal misconduct and confessed to using his status as a trusted physician to sexually abuse young girls. He also pleaded guilty to three other charges in another county and has been slapped with a 60-year prison sentence for possession of child pornography, unrelated to the accusations against him from scores of gymnasts.
Over the next four days, as many as 100 of Nassar’s victims are expected to deliver victim impact statements in court, CNN reported, as the judge is allowing all of his accusers to speak if they wish — not just the seven victims he has pleaded guilty to abusing. Kyle Stephens was one of the first to do so, detailing her first sexual experience, which occurred at the age of 6 years old. Nassar, a friend of Stephens’ parents, exposed himself to her in a shadowy boiler room, she said. For the next six years, he continued to abuse her, rubbing his penis on her, masturbating in front of her and sticking his finger in her vagina, Stephens recalled, saying Nassar was a “repulsive liar” for convincing her family that she was making up the allegations against him.
“Sexual abuse is so much more than a disturbing physical act,” Stephens told the court. “It changes the trajectory of a victim’s life, and that is something that nobody has the right to do.” In her case, it had a dramatic effect on the trajectory of her life and that of her father, who committed suicide in 2016, a tragedy she attributes to the abuse she suffered at the hands of Nassar.
“Little girls don’t stay little forever,” Stephens said. “They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
As victims addressed Nassar, often tearfully, he looked at them briefly, but mainly kept his head buried in his hands, video from inside the courtroom showed.
“Why me? Why was I the 9-year-old?” a visibly shaken Alexis Moore asked him. “I have looked into my parents heart and eyes, seeing their pain from now knowing that their only child was molested right in front of them, in the same room.”
Below, watch video highlights of the courageous victims and their parents confront Nassar, including the grieving mother of Chelsea Markham, a young woman was abused by Nassar and later committed suicide. And to watch extended victim impact statements, click here.
Read the full story at CNN.