Larry Nassar is finally being held accountable
Dozens of women and some of their parents are confronting former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar about the sexual abuse he inflicted on them as young girls. Each took to the stand to recount their horrific experiences during several days of court set aside for survivors and their families to speak about the emotional toll his abuse has taken on their lives.
Nassar, who already faces 60 years in jail for child pornography charges, sat in the courtroom as his victims opened up about the abuse they suffered. Prosecutors expect that there will be 98 statements made against the doctor.
Former Michigan State volleyball player Jennifer Rood-Bedford recalled her so-called “medical” sessions with Nassar, and the disgusting ways he would abuse his power. “He would just ask me questions and talk about life, his work, and how he had used this method to help so many,” she said. Then, the doctor put his finger inside her vagina. “I remember laying there wondering, ‘Is this OK? This doesn’t seem right.’ I didn’t know what to do.”
Olivia Cowan talked about the anxiety, trust issues, and sleep deprivation she has experienced as a result of Nassar’s abuse.
“Today, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend that is struggling each day to find peace and joy in all the things that once made me happy,” she said.
Donna Markham stood up and recounted taking her 12-year-old daughter Chelsea to see Nassar for medical treatment. On the car ride home, Chelsea cried and said that the doctor had put his finger inside of her. Markham said that the abuse sent her daughter into a downward spiral of depression. She lost her life to suicide at age 23.
“Every day I miss her. Every day. And it all started with him. It all started with him, and it just became worse as the years went by until she just couldn’t deal with it anymore.”
Nassar’s abuse extended past the athletic world. He cornered Kyle Stephens, the daughter of a family friend, and assaulted her between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Stephens’ parents didn’t believe the abuse was happening. The young woman dealt with debilitating anxiety and torn family relationships, as a result.
On January 16, Stephens bravely took to the stand and addressed her abuser directly. She was the first survivor to read her statement in court. “Sexual abuse is so much more than a disturbing physical act. It changes the trajectory of a victim’s life, and that is something that nobody has the right to do,” she said.
“Little girls don’t stay little forever,” she said. “They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
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