LANSING, Michigan. Larry Nassar rested his forehead against his crossed hands covering his eyes, unable to look at the woman speaking in front of him in a Michigan court Tuesday morning. It was less than an hour for a four-day sentencing hearing for criminal sexual conduct.
The woman in front of me was Donna Markham. She was speaking to the court and the ex-doctor and serial sexual predator convicted on behalf of her daughter, to whom she said she "could not join us today," he said. Chelsea Markham died by suicide at age 23 in 2009.
"It all started with him," Markham told the court. "It all started with him"
Two-time national team champion Aly Raisman says she felt that USA Gymnastics "threatened" her with silence when Larry Nassar first accused of sexual abuse.
Understanding how Dr. Larry Nassar obtained unrestricted access to sexually assault young athletes, despite the repeated warning signs, means confronting an uncomfortable truth: he did not get that access alone.
Nassar, 54, at one time was the national medical coordinator of USA Gymnastics and a renowned physician at the Michigan State Sports Clinic. He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct at the same Lansing courthouse in November. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on charges of child pornography, and prosecutors have requested another 40 to 125 year sentence for his sexual abuse.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said in court that she plans to comply with the plea agreement was reached in November and told the victims of Nassar that "her story will end in prison"
"The monster that took advantage of you are going to wither, "Aquilina told a woman who testified in the afternoon.
Markham said his daughter was sexually abused when she went to see Nassar for help with a gymnastic injury when she was 10, 11 and 12 years old. She said her daughter quit gymnastics when she was 13 years old after meeting Nassar at a gym meeting and "started a path of destruction."
Prosecutors expect 98 women to speak or present written statements this week. There were 28 statements submitted on Tuesday. Police have received 135 complaints about Nassar since September 2016 when Rachael Denhollander, a 32-year-old lawyer and mother of three children, shared her story about Nassar's assault with the Indianapolis Star. The girls and women who filed police complaints ranged from those who say they were attacked when they were only 6 years old, until a woman who on Tuesday told the court that Nassar attacked her when she went to see him after his divorce. 19659012] Prosecutors expect 98 women to speak or present written statements during the sentencing hearing for former US gymnastics medical coordinator Larry Nassar. Scott Olson / Getty Images
The women who spoke in court on Tuesday provide a window into the variety of girls and women who say that Nassar abused them. That list includes several Olympic medalists, junior gymnasts, figure skaters, college athletes who played a variety of sports, others who saw Nassar for non-sports injuries and family friends.
Kyle Stephens, the first woman to speak on Tuesday In the morning, she said her family regularly visited Nassar's house to share Sunday dinners when she was young. She said he attacked her for the first time when she was 6 years old.
"Let me remind you of the interests of a 6-year-old girl," he said. "My favorite television show was Clifford, the big red dog." My favorite book was "Junie B. Jones." I could not make a multiplication problem and I still had not lost all my milk teeth. "
More than 150 women have also filed lawsuits against Nassar and others in a civil court. Those lawsuits allege that Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and senior officers and coaches from both institutions could not stop Nassar when they had the opportunity to do so. Several women have reported that they told Michigan state officials in the late 1990s about the abuse of Nassar.
Michigan police investigated the allegations against Nassar in 2004 and 2014, but no charges were filed at that time. Nassar was also acquitted of irregularities in a 2014 Title IX investigation conducted by the university. Brianne Randall submitted a written statement to the court on Tuesday that she identified herself as the woman who told police in Meridian Township in 2004 that Nassar penetrated her and took her breasts during a medical appointment when she was 17.
Randall said she was alone at the appointment because her father was struggling with a terminal diagnosis of cancer. She believes that Nassar took advantage of this situation to attack her. She spoke the same day with the police, who in turn scheduled a meeting with Nassar and her parents. Nassar told them that Randall did not understand that what he was doing was a legitimate medical procedure and they decided not to continue with the claim.
"They lost this one," Aquilina said of the police.
Jennifer Rood-Bedford, a former volleyball player from the state of Michigan, said she tried to file a general complaint with her team's athletic coach in the early 2000s. She said she decided not to file a formal complaint because she blamed herself more than Nassar for the assault. Rood-Bedford joins four other women who have also said they complained to an authority figure in the state of Michigan about Nassar's intervaginal sexual violence more than a decade ago.
"To the MSU volleyball team, Dr. Nassar was trained" by his unconventional methods, "said Rood-Bedford. "I told myself it was normal." He knows what he's doing, do not be a baby. "
Nassar sometimes took notes during Tuesday's remarks, and on other occasions, he held his forehead in the palm of his hand, nodded as the women quoted the scriptures and shook him. When Rood-Bedford finished his statement, he took off his glasses and wiped the tears from his eyes.
Some of the women who spoke on Tuesday used their platform to punish USA Gymnastics and Michigan State for inaction or for not communicating with each other about Nassar's record.
Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon and members of the board of directors said last week that they intended to attend the hearing. This week's sentencing decision, but then they decided not to attend, Olivia Cowan, one of the women who spoke in court on Tuesday, qualified Michigan state administrators as or "cowards" and said that his reaction to this case "has been beyond my wildest dreams of equivocation".
"Your decision to look from the sidelines is a perfect representation of your lack of leadership," Cowan said.
Several of the women said that speaking openly and publicly identifying themselves has been a cathartic or empowering experience. Markham said he was upset that his daughter never had that opportunity.
"I wish I could have said what I wanted to say and what I had experienced, but it's not here," he said. "This was the last thing I could do for her."
Another woman who wished to remain anonymous said that she was wondering if she could have been Nassar's first victim. She said that Nassar attacked her in the early 1990s as part of a "research study" when she was in medical school and was just a teenager. He said that Nassar, who was not yet famous, but who at the time was reputed to be a friendly and ubiquitous doctor in the local gym where he was trained, may have been the most significant male influence in his childhood. The woman, now a lawyer, said at one point that she wanted to be a sports doctor to follow in her footsteps.
He ended his message to Nassar by referring to the ninth circle of hell in Dante Alighieri's poem "The Divine Comedy." He said it is an icy lake reserved for "those guilty of treason against those with whom they have special relationships."
"I had a special relationship with you, Larry, like all the girls he raped," he said. . "You gave us betrayal, and now your punishment awaits you."
After hearing some words of praise from Aquilina, the woman stepped back from the podium, looked Nassar in the eyes and pronounced the word "goodbye". She smiled as she walked away.
The final statement of the day came from Lindsey Schuett, 34, through a video recording. She said that in 1999, when she was 16, she saw Nassar seeking medical help. She said she immediately knew that what she was doing was sexual abuse. He told a high school counselor and his mother about what happened. They chose not to inform and took her back to Nassar for another appointment.
Schuett said he asked Nassar not to perform the intervaginal procedure, but he tried to do it anyway. On two occasions, during that appointment, he tried to penetrate her, he said, and she screamed as loud as she could both times. She said after the second time, referred her to another doctor.
At the end of the day, Aquilina reminded the court that Michigan does not have the death penalty and that the Constitution does not allow cruel and unusual punishment, but "If it happened, I have to say that I could allow what he did to all of them. these beautiful souls, these young people in their childhood, would allow someone or many people to do what they did to others "