How Larry Nassar Survivor Rachael Denhollander Honored The Detective Who Helped Her Get Justice
Over 150 women testified against Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University doctor accused of sexually abusing more than 330 victims. And now, one of those women is expressing her appreciation for a detective who helped her bring Nassar to justice — Rachael Denhollander named her baby after Michigan State University Detective Lt. Andrea Renee Munford.
As CNN reported, Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault. She also was the last of 156 women who stood up in court to testify against Nassar about the abuse she suffered while she was seeking medical attention.
But on Friday, 33-year-old Denhollander tweeted about her new baby girl and fourth child, whom she named Elora Renee Joy.
She explained the name in her tweet. Elora meant “to God belongs the victory” and she wrote that Renee had a special meaning: “rebirth, redemption. And after Dt. Lt. Andrea Renee Munford, who fought for us and made redeeming so much evil, possible.”
Denhollander added in her tweet: “Just need a few more babies so we can have namesakes for the others who fought for us too.”
"Wow! I shared this post with Andrea (who isn't on twitter),” Povilaitis tweeted. “I have such happy tears right now. What a beautiful & perfect name!"
Officials such as Munford and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina who listened to and helped Nassar's victims have received strong praise for believing the women and fighting against injustice.
The Indianapolis Star reported that when Denhollander testified against Nassar in front of a judge, she detailed the pain she went through.
"Larry meticulously groomed me for the purpose of exploiting me for his own sexual gain,” Denhollander said in court.
Denhollander was molested by Nassar when she was only 15 years old in 2000. She originally emailed Indianapolis Star reporters as they worked on an investigation into how USA Gymnastics handed sexual abuse complaints. Her coming forward sparked the investigation that brought Nassar down.
“I was not molested by my coach, but I was molested by Dr. Larry Nassar, the team doctor for USAG,” Denhollander wrote in her email to The Indianapolis Star at the time. “I was fifteen years old, and it was under the guise of medical treatment for my back."
As a mother in the spotlight of all the court proceedings earlier this year, Denhollander told The Indianapolis Star that she sheilded her young children by telling them that she had to go to “business meetings.” When her 6-year-old asked her husband what a pedophile was, the parents told the boy that it was a crime, Denhollander told The Indianapolis Star. All this is to say that being a mother in the national spotlight during such an earth-shattering abuse trial isn’t easy. But Denhollander seems to be making the best of it — particularly with her tweet about the happy baby news.
In February, Nassar pled guilty to three counts of criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 100 years in prison, CNN reported. In May, Michigan State settled a lawsuit regarding the abuse and will pay $500 million to 332 victims.
Even after the wins in court, Denhollander never stopped advocating for survivors and working to protect the next generation, which will include her own children.
At the time of the settlement, Denhollander said she’d keep fighting “for change and “accountability” in a statement, according to The Associated Press.
“The fight to give survivors a voice and protect the next generation has only just begun,” she said.