In November, former USA Gymnastics (USAG) doctor Larry Nassar pleaded guilty to ten counts of criminal sexual conduct, seven of which he currently faces sentencing for, with the remaining three to be determined later in the month. Nassar has been in court all week for a four-day hearing to determine the length of his sentence, during which his victims have provided statements to the court. Prior to today's testimony, the disgraced doctor wrote a letter to the sentencing judge claiming he was not sure he could handle continuing to confront his victims.
Nassar, naturally, drew little sympathy from the judge, likely because the testimony against him included such grisly conduct as described by gymnast Kyle Stephens who appeared in open court to tell the doctor that, thanks to him, she "engaged in my first sexual experience by kindergarten." Stephens, continuing, glowered at Nassar saying that "little girls don't stay little forever. They grow into strong women who return to destroy your world." these women were due their moment in court, and it continued today.
Among the statements given today was one from 2012 gold medalist McKayla Maroney, who had previously been silence by a non-disclosure agreement as part of a settlement with USAG. Initially Maroney faced a $100,000 fine, but after support from Chrissy Teigen, among others, USAG said it would not seek any payments from her.
Maroney was not available to make an appearance in the Lansing, Michigan courthouse, and instead had a statement read by the attorney general's office, according to Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wentzel. "From the outside looking in it's an amazing story," Maroney wrote of her battle to become an Olympian from such an early age. "I did it. I made it. But not without a price."
The statement later touched on previous testimony against Nassar, in which Maroney recounts Nassar giving her a sleeping pill during a flight to Japan, after which she woke up in Nassar's hotel room, being abused. "I thought I was going to die that night." Maroney says Nassar started abusing her since the age of 13. Here is an excerpt from her statement, as read by the attorney general:
Other women stepped forward to describe various incidents of abuse that spanned Nassar's time with USAG and with Michigan State University. A former Michigan State gymnast, Lindsey Lemke, who previously had a letter read on her behalf by her mother, stepped forward to make a statement. According to Sports Illustrated, she condemned her former coach John Geddert at Twistars Gym, calling him a "coward" and a "disgrace" for being in charge while this abuse persisted.
Eight-year USAG gymnast and 2000 Olympic bronze-medalist Jaime Dantzscher also stepped forward and gave a searing testimony, in which she said the doctor was "pure evil."
Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
In total, more than 150 women have come forward to say that Nassar had abused them.
Shortly after the Nassar hearings, USAG announced on Thursday that it will no longer use Karolyi ranch in Huntsville, Texas as a training ground for Olympic gymnasts, per NBC News. Monthly national team training camps were held there since 2000, and it was designated the official training ground of USA Gymnastics in 2011. It was also the location where Nassar allegedly abused many gymnasts.
On January 15, Simone Biles posted a statement to her social media accounts, saying,
“It breaks my heart even more to think that as I work toward my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused."
USAG President Kerry Perry said that USAG has terminated its agreement with the ranch, emphasizing that the plan was in the works since December. He continued:
Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.