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WATCH: Powerful impact statements from Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing

"Little girls don’t stay little forever..."
Larry Nassar sentencing hearing
Photo: Getty Images

You don’t have to know a lot about the world of gymnastics to know the name Larry Nassar.

Over 140 women, including famous athletes Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney, have accused the former Olympic and Michigan State University doctor for sexual abuse during medical treatments. Some of these women allege they were younger than 13 when they fell victim to his abuse.

Simone Biles came forward less than a week ago. "I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar," she wrote in a note posted to Instagram. "Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper. There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story, but I know now it is not my fault."

In a statement released Monday attributed to USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry, the organization said, "We are very sorry that any athlete has been hurt by the despicable crimes Larry Nassar committed. Our hearts break for these athletes and we deeply admire their courage and strength in sharing their experiences. USA Gymnastics will keep their words and experiences at the core of everything we do as we remain focused on our highest priority – the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them."

Nassar, 54, has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and last Tuesday, Jan. 16, began his sentencing hearing in which victims could read their impact statements. According to the Lansing State Journal, the least amount of time Nassar could receive is 25 to 40 years in prison, and the maximum is a life sentence. He was already sentenced to 60 years for charges of child pornography back in December.

His hearing continues today and will carry on until all of the victims who've volunteered have shared their accounts, and according to CNN, a total of 120 women are expected to speak.

Over the course of four days, 90 of these women read impact statements, and apparently, Nassar knew it was going to be "too much" for him — he wrote ahead of the multi-day hearing that he wasn’t sure if he could "mentally" handle listening to them.

Nevertheless, they ensued, some read through incoherent sobs, some through rage. And he had to listen to all of it.

As the hearing continues into this week, here are some of the powerful testimonies made so far.

Aly Raisman

"Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force, and you are nothing," Raisman said. "The tables have turned, Larry, we are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere. ... I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I’ve regained my strength, that I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor. I am no longer that little girl you met in Australia where you first began grooming and manipulating."

"Lying on my stomach with you on my bed insisting that your inappropriate touch would help to heal my pain," Raisman said. "The reality is, you caused me a great deal of physical, mental and emotional pain. You never healed me. You took advantage of our passions and our dreams."

"Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice," Raisman said. "Well you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice and I am only beginning to just use them. …You already know you’re going away to a place where you won’t be able to hurt anybody ever again. But I am here to tell you that I will not rest until every last trace of your influence on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer it is."

She also called USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee, saying that they were quick to capitalize off her success but failed to reach out when she came forward about Nassar. You can read her full testimony here.

Jennifer Rood-Bedford

Rood-Bedford, a former MSU volleyball player, read an emotional statement on Tuesday.

"He didn’t say anything out of the ordinary, he just did it as though he was doing something as mindless as riding a bicycle," Rood-Bedford said through tears. "There are two arguments at war in my mind: 'This doesn’t seem right,' vs. 'He’s a world-renowned doctor who’s treated so many athletes. Everyone knows he treats down there, and they don’t complain, so just stop being a baby.'"

"There are people that are hesitant to speak up because they think a victim wanted to be assaulted, and that’s just not true," Rood-Bedford said, discussing the self-shame she experienced. "…I had built up such a wall of protection in my mind around Nassar that my first reaction was to question myself. To blame myself."

"I was fearful of being looked down upon, of being labeled," she said. "I was fearful a man wouldn’t want me after that, that no man would want me. People would think I was messed up."

Jordyn Wieber

"I thought that training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing that I would ever have to do," the Olympic gold medalist said on Friday. "But in fact, the hardest thing I've ever had to do is process that I'm a victim of Larry Nassar."

"I started seeing Larry Nassar at the age of 8 at my hometown here in Lansing," she recalled, going on to say that he was known as "the best gymnastics doctor in the world" and that everyone said the same thing: "He was a miracle worker and he could fix just about anything."

Wieber said that Nassar treated her from age 8 to 18, and it wasn’t long before he gained her trust. She expressed anger at herself for not realizing that "he was sexually abusing me for his own benefit. It knew it felt strange, but he was the National Team doctor, who was I to question his treatments, or even more, risk my chance at making the Olympic team or being chosen to compete internationally?"

"But even though I am a victim, I do not and will not live my life as one," Wieber continued. "I am an Olympian. Despite being abused, I worked so hard and managed to achieve my goal, but I want everyone, especially the media, to know that despite my athletic achievements, I am one of over 140 women and survivors who’s story is important. Our pain is all the same." 

Olivia Cowan

Cowan, now married with two young daughters, addressed Nassar in tears.

"The hardest battle I will continue to face is, even in the situations you feel most safe, you can never let your guard down," she said. "You can’t trust a world-renowned doctor, who in this world can you trust?"

"These feeling don’t just stem from the abuse of Larry Nassar," Cowan said, calling out MSU and USA Gymnastics. "As if the struggle of what Larry Nassar did isn’t bad enough, it’s horrifying that MSU and USA Gymnastics are not stepping up to the plate to admit their wrongdoing."

"I want MSU and USAG to know what they have done is on the very same level of accountability as the crime Nassar has committed," Cowan continued. "MSU knew what was being done to these athletes and decided to turn a blind eye to keep their reputation strong and their pockets full. If they would have only taken action upon the first reporting, they would have saved me and all these other women standing before us today."

Chelsea Williams

Williams, a former gymnast, recalled on Wednesday that Nassar manipulated her with such "ease" and such "finesse."

She addressed comments that people have made about victims just now coming forward with allegations against Nassar:

"Speaking as a survivor of this man’s systematic abuse, I do not believe these questions are relevant any longer. If you’re still asking these questions, then you do not have an informed understanding of what is happening here and what has been happening for years. You have no concept of the culture of gymnastics, a culture that promotes fear of challenging authority, an environment that often breeds physical and mental abuse, and a system designed to limit parental involvement. You have no idea what this man is capable of doing and how he used these weaknesses of this culture to satisfy is own demented needs."

"We may have been silenced for years, but it is this silence that will forever bond us in a sisterhood," Williams concluded in tears. "It is this silence that has challenged us to find our voice. We have found it. We are using it, I just ask that you hear us."

McKayla Maroney

Maroney’s attorney, John Manly, told Metro that while she was at the hearing and had every intention to speak, it was "incredibly hard for her to be in the same room as [Nassar]." Instead, the prosecutor delivered the statement in full, which you can read here.

"Each survivor is at their own point of recovery and each has a right to put themselves first in that process," Manly said. "For [McKayla], for right now, she’s going to focus on her healing and her recovery from this and that didn’t include speaking at this hearing."

"The Olympics is something that brings people hope and joy," the statement read. "It inspires people to fight for their dreams, because anything is possible with hard-work and dedication. … I did it. I got there, but not without a price."

Maroney filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics in December for paying her to keep quiet with a confidentiality agreement that Manly called illegal. The U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University were also named as defendants for failing to "properly investigate, discipline or remove" Nassar.

USA Gymnastics argued that the agreement was legal and announced last week that they would not enforce the $100,000 fine on Maroney for breaking that agreement.

Maroney's statement called out these organizations: "A simple fact is this. If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar’s behavior I never would have met him, I never would have been 'treated' by him, and I never would have been abused by him."

Kyle Stephens

Stephens was the first victim to deliver her statement last Tuesday and said she experienced Nassar’s abuse when she was as young as 6, when she knew him as a family friend. She was the only victim who was not treated by Nassar as an athlete, Huffington Post reported.

"Sexual abuse is so much more than a disturbing physical act," Stephens said. "It changes the trajectory of a victim’s life, and that is something no one has the right to do."

She addressed Nassar directly, stating, "After my parents confronted you, they brought you back to my house to speak to me. Sitting on my living room couch, I listened to you tell me, 'No one should ever do that, and if they do, you should tell someone.' Well Larry, I’m here, not to tell someone, but to tell everyone."

Stephens continued on to say that Nassar convinced her parents that she was a liar and gave graphic details of him performing sexual acts on her. Stephen’s father later committed suicide in 2016 after realizing that his daughter's claims had been true all along.

"You used my body for six years for your own sexual gratification," Stephens said. "That is unforgiveable. … You were first arrested on my charges, and now, as the only non-medical victim to come forward, I testify to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar, and those 'treatments' were pathetically veiled sexual abuse."

"Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever," she concluded with a vengeance. "They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world."