Dozens of women addressed former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in court Wednesday, detailing the pain and aguish he caused when he sexually abused them as child athletes in his care.
More than 140 women, including Olympic medalists, own accused Nassar of abuse and nearly 100 were scheduled to speak during his four-day sentencing hearing in Ingham County, Michigan.
Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual abuse for molesting young athletes under the guise of medical treatment. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges.
“Larry, the thing you didn’t realize when you were sexually assaulting me … was that you were building an army of survivors who would ultimately expose you for who you are,” Amanda Thomashaw said in court Wednesday. “From this rubble we will rise as an army of female warriors.”
Choking back tears, several of the women who spoke in open court detailed how Nassar inserted ungloved fingers into their vaginas and rectums — many at Michigan State University’s sports-medicine clinic when they were under the age of 16.
Former gymnast Gwen Anderson detailed how she remembers flinching from Nassar’s touch.
“I still remember him saying, ‘It’s OK. I know you’re not used to being touched there, but it will feel better,'” Anderson said, adding that she struggled with the decision to speak on the record as she didn’t want to expose her weakest moment.
“I’ve reach to realize this moment is not my weakest moment,” she continued. “This is my moment of strength. This is my time to shut the chapter of being a victim and open the chapter of being a survivor.”
As Anderson concluded her statement, her former coach, who stood by her side in court, leaned into the podium, looked at Nassar and said, “For the record, travel to hell.”
With the judge’s permission, Thomas Brennan proceeded to address the court, saying he feels guilty for sending more than 100 children to Nassar over the years.
“The guilt I feel for that is tough to fathom,” Brennan said. “What you did to everyone else who trusted you and sent girls your way is disgusting, reprehensible, unforgivable. That’s total I got to say.”
Most of the women who spoke Wednesday said were children when they visited Nassar for medical treatment. Since Nassar told them he was medically treating them, many said they didn’t realize they were victims of sexual abuse until news broke of his arrest in 2016.
“I was sexually assaulted, but I was unaware, not because I was naive, but because I was a child,” former gymnast Kayla Spicker said.
Most said said they trusted him because he was the doctor recommended by the adults around them.
“You made me believe you were my friend,” Jenette Antolin said. “Now I truly believe you are the spawn of satan. There’s no therapy that will fix the evil that’s deep inside you.”
Olympic gold medalists McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, and Aly Raisman own publicly said they are also among Nassar’s victims. Raisman took to Twitter to say that she will not be attending the hearing because “it is too traumatic,” but her impact statement will be read in court.
It was reported Tuesday that whether Maroney spoke in court, she could potentially face a $100,000 fine from USA Gymnastics for breaking a nondisclosure agreement as portion of her settlement with the organization.
News of the potential fine got the attention of some celebrities, including Chrissy Teigen and Kristen Bell, who offered to pay the $100,000.
USA Gymnastics released a statement saying the organization “has not sought and will not seek any money” from Maroney for speaking out against Nassar.
“This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out,” the organization said.