Larry Nassar's victims have finally had their say: the former Michigan State University and Team USA Gymnastics doctor was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison Wednesday, after the court heard statements from victims of Nassar's abuse. As part of his seven-day sentencing hearing, more than 150 women have stood before Nassar and delivered statements that have been at times angry, heartbreakingly horrific, powerful, and defiant. Through their words, these women have shed light not only on how abusers often use positions of power and influence to cover up their actions, but on how the people around abusers enable the behavior to continue as well.
Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting seven underage girls late last year and for days has been hearing impact statements from more than a hundred people who claim he abused them or a member of their family. Throughout it all, Nassar has sat on the witness stand, his face turned toward the court, to give the dozens of women he abused perhaps their first — and perhaps their only — chance to confront him face-to-face.
According to Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis, 88 victims had initially planned to speak at Nassar's sentencing. But as the hearing progressed, more and more of Nassar's victims came forward. By the time Judge Rosemarie Aquilina had handed down Nassar's sentence Wednesday, 163 statements, including those from Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, and McKayla Maroney, had been heard. The statements produced dozens of truly powerful and moving quotes.
"This will not define us," former gymnast Gwen Anderson said. "What he did to us is not going to define who we are. He's going to sit in jail for the rest of his life. We, on the other hand, are going to move forward. We are going to live our best lives because we are fighters and we are strong.... I've come to realize that this moment is not my weakest moment, this is my moment of strength. This is my time to close the chapter of being a victim and open my chapter of being a survivor, and that standing here today, facing the man who molested me as a child and share my story, is my time."
"I may seem like a lamb on the outside but I'm a lion on the inside," the Lansing State Journal reported Natalie Woodland said during Nassar's sentencing hearing. "And while standing up here, I'm finally realizing that I am not alone and that my story is important and I have a right to be heard. I refuse to be held in bondage by what this man has done to me."
"Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force, and you are nothing," Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said. "I am here to face you Larry, so you can see I have regained my strength — that I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor... The survivors are here, standing tall, and we are not going anywhere."
"We young girls were fooled," the Lansing State Journal reported Alison Chauvette said. "But the world should not have been."
"After my parents confronted you, they brought you back to my house to speak with me," Kyle Stephens told Nassar. "Sitting on my living room couch, I listened to you tell me 'no one should ever do that and if they do, you should tell someone.' Well, Larry, I'm here. Not to tell someone, but to tell everyone...Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don't stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world."
"If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem," Isabell Hutchins said in court.
"People should know that sexual abuse of children is not just happening in Hollywood, in the media, or in the halls of Congress. This is happening everywhere," former Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney wrote in an impact statement that was read aloud during Nassar's sentencing hearing. "Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary, and disgusting... Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back."
"I'm here today with all these other women — not victims, but survivors — to tell you face-to-face that your days of manipulation are over," former Olympic gymnast Jamie Dantzscher said. "We have a voice now. We have the power now. There is no therapy, no cure, and no healing for monsters like you. You are pure evil and I hope every other evil pervert listening to this is sitting there cowardly like you with their tail between their legs because you are just one of so many that are going to get what they deserve."
"I am no longer broken by you," 17-year-old Jade Capua told Nassar. "Everyday I grow a new strength and look into the mirror to see a strong, unbreakable person. Nothing will ever take away what you have done to me, or to the others that stand behind me. However, we can walk free and radiate the strength that we have gained from your horrific acts. Something you will never be able to do."
"Enjoy hell, by the way," gymnast Brooke Hylek told Nassar.
"You were meant to get caught," Sterling Riethman told Nassar. "You are meant to be locked up for the rest of your life. MSU and USAG's culture of enabling predators is meant to end. As for us, we are meant to thrive."
"I came to the stand as a victim, and I leave as a victor," the Cut reported Stephanie Robinson said in her impact statement.
Emma Ann Miller
"As Nassar's story fades into a federal prison cell for the rest of his life, my story, our story, is going to be mine," 15-year-old Emma Ann Miller told Michigan State University (MSU) officials in court. "And your's is going to be titled Miller vs. MSU."
"As you deteriorate in prison, I want you to remember that you lost," a statement from Maureen Payne that was read aloud in court by her mother said. "As you eke out your days in prison, know that you will be forgotten and left alone... To the brave women who were able to speak, know that you are not alone."
Tiffany Thomas Lopez
"The army you chose in the late '90s to silence me, to dismiss me and my attempt at speaking the truth, will not prevail over the army you created when violating us," softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez told Nassar in her impact statement. "We seek justice, we deserve justice and we will have it."
"The little girls you took advantage of so easily have now come back to haunt you," Jeanette Antolin, a former member of the national gymnastics team, told Nassar.
"Since reports of Larry Nassar's misconduct to Michigan State faculty began in 1997, two years before I was even born, I can't help but wonder how many little girls could have been spared from this life long battle if someone at the university had just done the bare minimum and listened?" Morgan McCaul asked.
"Each day I'm fighting to be me again," dancer and former Michigan State University Sports Medicine patient Jessica Smith said. "In addition to being inspired by these incredibly strong women and wanting to set an example for my students, I'm motivated to come forward publicly with my story, and being involved with this case, to set a precedent that I will not be silenced and I will seek justice."
"I thought that training for the Olympics would be hardest thing I would ever have to do," former Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber said in court. "But the hardest thing I've ever had to do is process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar. But even though I'm a victim, I do not and will not live my life as one."
"You have pissed off the wrong army of women," 22-year-old Lindsey Lemke told Nassar.
This list is by no means complete and I encourage you to listen to the stories of each and every woman who spoke out against Nassar during his sentencing hearing.