Nassar accuser: ‘Larry was a master manipulator’
CHARLOTTE, Mich. (AP) — More women and girls are giving victim statements in a Michigan courtroom in a third sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the disgraced former gymnastics doctor who has pleaded guilty to molesting people under the guise of medical treatment.
Nassar, 54, worked at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, the governing body that also trains Olympians. He was sentenced Jan. 24 to 40 to 175 years in prison for assaulting seven people in the Lansing area; more than 150 statements were given in that seven-day hearing. He was sentenced in December to 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.
Here are excerpts of some victims’ statements from a hearing that started Wednesday in Charlotte, Michigan, where Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting three gymnasts at an elite club run by an Olympic coach:
Lauren and Madison Margraves gave statements Friday shortly before their father, Randall Margraves, lunged at Nassar in court. He was stopped by bailiffs.
Lauren said she was 13 and competing at Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale when she was molested by Nassar.
“I trusted you. My parents trusted you. My two sisters, who’ve also had unfortunate experiences with you, trusted you. I feel like I’ll never be able to trust another man ever again.”
“My parents are heartbroken and so filled with regret. All three of their children were victims of you. They wish so badly they could have taken us somewhere else to get care.”
“I see the look in their faces and I know they want to be able to do something, but they can’t. The guilt they have will never go away. All this is because of you.”
Madison Margraves said she also was molested as a young gymnast competing at Twistars. She first went to Nassar because of a back injury in 2014. She thanked the other accusers.
“You showed me that I am not alone. You showed me that there is power in voice,” she said, her voice cracking. “And I will forever be grateful for that.”
Katie Black, who was a gymnast, stood with her father and her coach. She first saw him for a lower back injury at age 11.
“He ruined my sport and my body and he ruined me. Larry was a master manipulator.”
“You didn’t just hurt us. You hurt everybody who cares about us. Sometimes I think you hurt my dad more than me.”
Brittney Schumann said Nassar molested her at age 11 when she attended her first national team training camp. She is now a practicing physician.
“I’m making this statement because by staying anonymous, how can I say that I’m an advocate for women’s health and encourage my patients to be empowered if I can’t do it for myself? I’m here today to say to Larry: You are a disgrace to our profession. How dare you say you were a good doctor or providing treatments.”
Soccer player Erin Blayer said she starting seeing Nassar for excruciating back pain at age 12.
She told him: “I am here to move on and leave you in my past.”
Blayer said one takeaway for her is that “the bad guy never wins. ... My last tears have already been shed over you.”
Jessica Thomashow, 17, said Nassar molested her at ages 9 and 12 when she had rib displacement and a stress fracture in her ankle.
“You took advantage of my innocence and trust. You were my doctor. Why? I ask myself that question all the time. What you did to me was twisted. You manipulated me and my entire family. How dare you?”
She said at Twistars injured gymnasts were instructed to see Nassar, not their family doctor. She said she wanted to be a sports doctor, but the dream “died” after Nassar’s abuse.
Michigan State University student Katherine Ebert said she was a gymnast since the age of 5 and began seeing Nassar when she was 15.
“You are the most vile, disgusting creature I have ever met,” she told him in court. “There are black holes in my memory that come back as nightmares or flashbacks, not wanting to believe they’re true.”
Annie Labrie was a full-time gymnast through adolescence. She traveled to Twistars gymnastics club, spending 25 hours a week there, not including the hour-and-a-half drive each way. Nassar was her doctor for five years. She said she saw him for a back injury and was treated at Twistars, Michigan State and the basement of his home.
She said his treatments “made my skin crawl. I rejected my intuition anyway because every adult and authority figure around me assured me that this, that competing was the only option.”
Labrie said she hid it from her parents, “because in Larry’s words, ‘They wouldn’t understand.’”
“A pedophile cannot flourish in the way Larry did and in an environment that is not conducive to his behavior. ... It is imperative we as a society do not view this as an isolated incident.”
Tiffany Dutton said she was a competitive gymnast from a young age. She suffered back pain around age 12 or 13 and was referred to Nassar by coaches at age 14. She said she was inspired to come forward publicly by the people who appeared at the earlier hearing where Nassar was sentenced last week.
“On this day, I’ve decided to fully relinquish my anonymity as a symbol to myself that there is absolutely nothing I have to be ashamed or afraid of,” she said. “Due to the bravery and courage of the many women who appeared in Ingham County to face our predator, I am no longer fearful. To all of them I will be ever grateful.”
Eve Petrie said she competed at another gym in Lansing but saw Nassar for a back injury starting in late 2012. She said he molested her from ages 12 to 15.
“One thing I never like myself being is a victim. I hate to feel as if I am to be pitied or felt sorry for, especially by those that I love. But I feel as if I can stand here today and say that I am not a victim of sexual abuse, but I am a survivor.”