After listening to the riveting pleas of more than 150 victims, a judge is set to sentence a Michigan doctor who parlayed his reputation and personal charm into years of sexual abuse by molesting Olympic gymnasts and other young female athletes instead of solving their sports injuries.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina will hear from a few more victims and then send Larry Nassar to prison Wednesday, the seventh day of a remarkable hearing that has given the girls, young women and their parents a chance to confront him in court. He faces a minimum prison term of 25 to 40 years but it could go higher. Among those expected to speak on the last day: Rachael Denhollander, a Kentucky woman who contacted Michigan State University police in 2016 after reading reports about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints of sexual misconduct.
Nassar worked at Michigan State and also was the national gymnastics squad’s doctor. Nassar, 54, eventually pleaded guilty to assaulting seven people in the Lansing area, including Denhollander, but the sentencing hearing has been open to anyone who said they were a victim. His accusers said he would use his ungloved hands to penetrate them, often without explanation, while they were on a table seeking help for various injuries. The accusers, many of whom were children, said they trusted Nassar to care for them properly, were in denial about what was happening or were afraid to speak up. He sometimes used a sheet or his body to block the view of any parent in the room.
“I’d been told during my entire gymnastics career to not question authority,” a former elite gymnast, Isabell Hutchins, said Tuesday. The women have included Olympians Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney.