140 Former Gymnasts Emotionally Confront Doctor Larry Nassar at Abuse Trial

AP Nassar Trial
The Associated Press

A wave of 140 women came forward to accuse former U.S. Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar of sexually assaulting them when they were training as young athletes. And many testified at his trial revealing heartbreaking stories of abuse.

Nassar sat quietly as the parade of victims came through his sentencing hearing as one after another they read their victim statements about how the doctor abused his position in sports medicine to molest them when they were young, aspiring athletes.

The abusive doctor has already been convicted and sentenced to 60 years in jail on child pornography charges and he could also serve up to 40 years for charges he molested girls in Michigan.

Nassar used his role both as a doctor for U.S. Gymnastics, and his position when he worked for the Michigan State University sports department, to gain access to and abuse women.

The women who are accusing Nassar are Olympics Gold Medal winners, dancers, high school students, and women from several areas of sports. Highlights of the victim impact statements were published by the Daily Mirror this week.

Dancer Jessica Smith, for instance, testified that Nassar abused his prestigious position as the official doctor for U.S. Gymnastics to abuse girls in other sports who came to him based on his reputation as a sports medicine expert.

“So many of my role models went to Nassar, other people in the ballet company that I looked up to,” Smith said in court. “He was an Olympic gymnastic doctor at Michigan State University, you know? So many things that led me to trust him.”

Isabell Hutchins, a former gymnast, told the court how Nassar used her leg injury as an excuse to molest her. “You didn’t heal me. You only hurt me,” she said to the court.

Whitney Mergens told the court that Nassar started abusing her when she was only an 11-year-old.

Mergens wondered how many girls are out there that he abused. “Do you even know? Did you keep track? Do you know the number keeps rising? And that’s only the girls that are actually coming forward. How is it Larry that your secret was kept for so long?” she said tearfully.

Explaining how he “brainwashed” girls to avoid being reported, Krista Wakeman railed at Nassar saying, “You are a sick man, Larry. I hope you rot in prison because that’s where you belong.”

Athlete Bailey Lorencen assailed Nassar. “You used my child-like vulnerability as your access to gain my trust in you,” she said, “And that is something I will never forget.”

Kara Johnson sorrowfully said, “I will never be able to get back what you have so effortlessly taken.” And her sister, Maddie added, “He was the doctor. I was the child. I had no idea what to think.”

The statements went on and on in a similar vein as victim after victim testified how Nassar abused his profession to molest innocent girls.

The accusations and conviction of Doctor Nassar led to the resignations of several top officials of USA Gymnastics including USA Gymnastics Board Chairman Paul Parilla.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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