LANSING, Mich. >> The judge overseeing the sentencing of disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar said today that more than 100 girls and women who had given statements so far at the five-day hearing were “sister survivor warriors.”
“I want to you know that your face and the face of all of the sister survivor warriors — the whole army of you — I’ve heard your words,” Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said after a woman spoke in her Michigan courtroom. “Your sister survivors and you are going through incomprehensible lengths, emotions and soul-searching to put your words together, to publicly stop (the) defendant, to publicly stop predators, to make people listen.”
Nassar, 54, has admitted molesting athletes during medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics today announced the resignations of three key leaders — chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley — days after former gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber said in court that Nassar had sexually assaulted them. CEO Steve Penny was forced out last year.
Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes. Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in the molestation case. The maximum term could be much higher.
“Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know?” asked Clasina Syrboby, as she fought back tears while speaking for more than 20 minutes today. “You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position — the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you Larry. Shame on you.
She and other victims also continued their criticism of Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing enough to stop Nassar when initial complaints were made years ago.
Emma Ann Miller, 15, said the school was still billing her mother for medical appointments in which Nassar molested Miller as recently as August 2016 — a week before he was fired.
University spokesman Jason Cody told The Associated Press that Miller’s allegation was being addressed and “I can tell you that patients of former MSU physician Larry Nassar will not be billed.”
Michigan State’s gymnastics coach and another sports doctor quit under pressure last year. But the governing board has stood behind university President Lou Anna Simon, despite calls from legislative leaders and others that she resign or be fired.
One of the board’s eight members said over the weekend that Simon should quit, saying he did not think she could survive the “public outcry.” Board chairman Brian Breslin, however, said all of the other trustees continued to support her.
“We look forward to a prompt and thorough investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to help reassure the public that the university and its leadership have nothing to hide,” he said Saturday. “As our outside counsel, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, has written to the Attorney General, we believe “the evidence will show that no official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016.”
A Title IX probe conducted by the university cleared Nassar of sexual assault allegations in 2014. At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the investigation was concluded, according to a university police report that was provided to the FBI for review by the U.S. attorney.