More than 30 woman have come forward over the weekend and are expected to join the 100+ women sharing their stories of sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar as part of his criminal sentencing. The testimonies started last Tuesday and have carried over into this week.
Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with victims as young as six years old. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. More than 150 women have said they were abused by Nassar, who was the USA Gymnastics doctor for nearly two decades.
Nassar sat in the witness stand so that the victims could address him directly. For many of the women, this marks the first and possibly only time they will have the opportunity to speak to him directly.
On Monday, away from the courtroom, Simone Biles came forward with her own account of abuse by Nassar. She joins Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney as recent Olympians who said they were abused by him. On Tuesday, Kyle Stephens was among those who emotionally confronted Nassar by recounting her first instance of abuse when she was just six years old. On Friday, three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman delivered an empowering statement and added USA Gymnastics is "rotting from the inside."
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is presiding over the hearing. On Thursday, she informed the courtroom that Nassar said he does not know whether he can face witnesses and the impact statements anymore. Nassar submitted a six-page, single-spaced letter to her. He described the victim statements as a four-day "media circus."
"I do not know why you are complaining now," Aquilina told Nassar.
Nassar said that his letter was a "cry for community mental health."
Here is what the victims said on Wednesday, according to reporters in the room. Matt Mencarini of the Lansing State Journal, Lauren Gibbons of Michigan Live, Clayton Cummins of WILX News, Kate Wells of Michigan Radio and John Barr of ESPN are among the reporters providing live updates on Twitter.
The stories shared by the women contain graphic details and mature subject matter.
?Lorencen, 22, was known as Victim B in court filings. She was abused by Nassar when she was in fourth grade as a competitive gymnast for the Twistars. The local gymnastics club, owned by John Geddert (named as a co-defendant in federal lawsuits against Nassar) suggested that she see Nassar. During a practice, she fell and broke her neck in four places. Geddert told her it was likely a "muscle injury" and had her finish practicing. Lorencen said she took eight months off from gymnastics but then her injuries returned and she sought medical treatment from Nassar.
"That's when my abuse started," Lorencen said. "You said it was medical treatment...you closed your eyes and continued talking to me like nothing was happening...no one had ever touched me like this before."
The abuse ended when Nassar told her that she needed to quit gymnastics, if she wanted to walk again.
Lorencen said she had graphc nightmares about Nassar and others trying to sexual abuse her.
Webb was also a gymnast at Twistars and she started to see Nassar when she suffered from back problems. Webb reached out to the prosecutor over the weekend through a media representative. Nassar started abusing Webb at 7 years old.
She noted once instance when she was 10 years old and Nasaar asked her to put on a pair of baggy shorts before digitally penetrating her. Her mother was in the room but Nassar said that the treatment would mean less surgery.
Webb previously defended Nassar and said that she helped her.
Mergens was a competitive gymnast in Farmington, Michigan when she was abused by Nassar at 11 years old. X-rays showed that she had multiple bulging discs in her back but Nassar treated her after returning from the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She recalled that her mother was in the room when Nassar would "push his cold bare hands up" her private parts. She had a few more appointments with Nassar and was continually abused.
Mergens apologized to her boyfriend for why she no longer wanted him to touch her. She also told her parents that it was not their fault because in a way, they were also Nassar's victims.
Stern wanted to remain anonymous but changed her mind to speak publicly. She is now a medical professional who looked up to Stern as a childhood hero. Stern said Nassar assaulted her until she was sore and raw at appointments. She says that she struggled with physical touch because of Nassar's abuse.
Syrovy thought about sharing her testimony anonymously but decided to come forward publicly. She was a gymnast at Great Lakes Gymnastics Club and competed for 15 years. She saw Nassar for back pain at the Michigan State sports clinic but said that the treatments included vaginal penetration.
"During treatments, one hand would be on my low back, massaging, and one hand would be between my legs with his fingers inside me. I would cry," Syrovy said. "I would cry because it hurt."
She said that even as she was crying, Nassar would say to her that he needed to "get really deep in there." She trusted in his treatment even if it felt like he was physically hurting her.
"His words haunt me," she added. "Was he referring to my back, or to my vagina? I struggled with reliving these appointments. With putting my feelings into words, sharing my emotion and trying to process what happened. I trusted Larry."
Syrovy was initially in denial about Nassar when the first reports started coming out. Parts of her still defended Nassar when child pornography was found on his disposed computers. In 2017, she had no intention of coming forward with her story of abuse but built up the courage by watching former teammates speak out.
"Larry, how many of us are there?" Syrovy asked him. "Do you even know? Did you keep track? Do you know the number keeps rising? And that's only the girls actually coming forward."
Syrovy said that Michigan State "did nothing to stop this." She also called out Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon "for her cowardice" and for "sitting by the sidelines" when the reports against Nassar started to surface.
She asked the judge to take the damage that Nassar caused into consideration in her final sentence.
Emma Ann Miller
Miller is 15 years old and her mother allowed her to publicly speak. Miller said that for most of her life she has just lived with her mother and she needed a positive role model in her life. Her mother had appointments with Nassar but then she started being treated by him when she was 10 years old. Miller said that her last treatment was in August 2016, which means she is "possibly the last child he will ever assault" since he was fired by Michigan State in September. She said that her mother is still getting billed for the appointments where abuse took place.
"Larry Nassar, I hate you," Miller said. "I will work on forgiving you, as I know that's what God wants. But at this moment, I'll leave forgiveness up to Him."
Miller says she thinks she might be the last child Nassar will ever assault. MSU Sports Clinic is still attempting to bill her family for that appointment. https://t.co/s8nvQYJMk6
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) January 22, 2018
— Law & Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) January 22, 2018
Miller said that as Nassar's story fades, her story "is going to be called Miller vs. MSU" and thats he will note be alone.
Miller said that 40 years is not enough and that she would like Nassar to get the maximum sentence of 125 years in prison.
This post will continue to be updated with the stories shared from the courtroom on Monday.