Former sports physician Larry Nassar has been sentenced to 175 years in prison for abusing more than 150 young American gymnasts.
One victim lashed out that there were no words for how much she “f—— hated’ him. The comment came as the judge allowed Nassar’s victims to give statements prior to the conclusion of the case.
But Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, moved another direction.
In court, she told the judge and Nassar that she prayed for him to find “grace and hope and mercy.”
“The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet,” she testified.
“Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.”
She continued: “I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me – though I extend that to you as well.”
She explained how she had hung on to the writings of C.S. Lewis, who wrote about the difficulty of knowing wrong when there is no knowledge of right.
Lewis wrote: “My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?”
Denhollander explained: “Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.”
She warned: “When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love. Larry, you have shut yourself off from every truly beautiful and good thing in this world that could have and should have brought you joy and fulfillment, and I pity you for it. You could have had everything you pretended to be. Every woman who stood up here truly loved you as an innocent child, real genuine love for you, and it did not satisfy.”
Her life is on track, she said.
“I have experienced the soul satisfying joy of a marriage built on sacrificial love and safety and tenderness and care. I have experienced true intimacy in its deepest joys, and it is beautiful and sacred and glorious. And that is a joy you have cut yourself off from ever experiencing, and I pity you for it.”
Denhollander also thanked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for allowing the victims to make statements.
The testimonies from the victims took seven days in court.
Nasser had pleaded guilty to molesting girls while at Michigan State University and elsewhere.
See Denhollander’s testimony in its entirely, or fast forward to about the 25-minute mark for her conclusion:
Denhollander told of how long it took her to recover from being molested at age 15.
“I think of the young girl that I was and the little girls and young women all of these survivors were every day. I feel like I see them in the faces of my two precious daughters. When I watch my daughters’ eyes light up as they dance to The Nutcracker, I remember the little girl that I and all of these women used to be. The sparkle their eyes must have had as mine did before their innocence was taken. I watched my daughters love and trust unreservedly and I remember the long road that it has been to let myself love and be loved without fear. I think of the scars that still remain for all of us.”
She also put blame on the organizations through which Nassar worked for allowing his abuse of little girls to occur.
Other comments from Nassar’s victims included:
Kyle Stephens, who said Nassar abused her from age 6: “I testified to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar and those ‘treatments’ were pathetically veiled sexual abuse. 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.”
Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian: “Your days of manipulation are over. We have a voice. We have the power now.”
Clasina Syrovy, who competed as a gymnast for 15 years: “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.”
Former gymnast Marta Stern: “I will no longer let you have control over me. I will not let you win.”
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman: “You have not taken gymnastics away from me. I love this sport, and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you, in those who enabled you to hurt many people.”
One victim pointed out Michigan State still was billing her mother for “medical” appointments in which Nassar molested her as recently as 2016.
Alexis Alvarado, who said she was abused by Nassar when she was 12: “This is your hell. And I hope you burn in it.”