LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Twenty-nine women shared personal stories in court Tuesday, each of them revealing how they came to know former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and how his abuse has affected their lives to this day.
It was an emotional start to the first of four days of Nassar’s sentencing hearing.
The court room was packed. At times, people were passing tissues to one another, but despite all the negative that has come out of this, many said for the first time they’re feeling empowered because for once, their voices are being heard.
And they got the chance to face their perpetrator, some of them, for the first time since they were first abused.
Kyle Stephens was the first to speak. She was sexually assaulted by Nassar in his home when she was a child. Nassar admitted to the abuse as part of his plea deal in Ingham County.
“Perhaps you have figured it out now, but little girls don’t stay little forever,” she said. “They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
Each of the women brought their statements to the podium feeling braver than ever to tell Nassar how his abuse affects their lives to this day.
“The number of people’s lives you’ve altered does not stop at the victims,” one woman said. “It has also impacted the people closest to us in our lives. We have no choice but to watch them suffer from this too.”
“I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and still suffer from nightmares, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance and much more,” another woman added.
One woman spoke on behalf of her daughter, detailing the tragic downward spiral that happened after she was abused by Nassar.
As a result of the abuse, she said her daughter began using drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd until she ultimately decided enough was enough.
“2009, she took her own life because she couldn’t deal with the pain anymore,” she said.
Nassar had his head down majority of the time. He would look up when the women addressed him, sometimes shaking his head with tears.
Brianne Randall had her statement read by the Attorney General’s office. She’s the woman who reported Nassars abuse to the Meridian Township Police Department in 2004.
Her statement revealed the disturbing details of how she says that investigation was handled.
“The police contacted my family and asked us to come in for a meeting with Mr. Nassar,” the statement said. “I told my parents that I did not want to face him, so they went without me. At this meeting, Mr. Nassar informed my parents that this was simply a misunderstanding and that because I was not a gymnast, I was not as comfortable with my body. There was no investigation and I was left to feel like the whole situation was my fault.”
MSU released a statement saying the university, including President Lou Anna K. Simon and Board of Trustee Chairman Brian Breslin have been viewing the brave women who have come forward to tell their stories.
“Words cannot express the sorrow we feel for Nassar’s victims; the thoughts and prayers of the entire MSU community are with these women as we listen to their heartbreaking testimony,” it said. “We are committed to supporting those in our community affected by these terrible crimes and have created the Healing Assistance Fund to help survivors access any counseling and mental health services they may need. We want to say again that we are truly sorry for the abuse Nassar’s victims suffered, the pain it caused and the pain it continues to cause.”
There are dozens of women who are still expected to speak throughout the week. 6 News will be in the court room for every single one of them and bring you the latest on this story.