Olympic Doctor Faces Decades in Prison for Abusing Minors

On January 16, 2018, Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar stood in a Michigan courtroom facing multiple charges relating to the sexual abuse of minors. A former sports doctor, Nassar trained young women and girls for years, assaulting them under the guise of medical treatment. Among the victims are several Olympic gymnasts, including Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman. In total, almost 100 accusers are expected to testify during the four-day sentencing hearing. Addressing years of physical abuse as well as the emotional and mental aftermath, these women and girls are taking a stand to seek justice.

On the first day of sentencing, some accusers cried, some requested their names not be used, and some faced Nassar with fire. Kyle Stephens was the first to speak, and recounted six years of sexual abuse at the hands of Dr. Nassar. From age six to age twelve, Stephens said that Nassar visited her family home and assaulted her multiple times. She stated “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.” She testified that her years of pain were “pathetically veiled sexual abuse”, disguised as treatment.

28 other women and girls testified after Stephens, with more expected in the following days. Donna Markham recounted the harrowing journey of her daughter, Chelsey, through drug abuse and addiction after being assaulted by Dr. Nassar. In 2009, Chelsey committed suicide after a long battle with addiction. Her mother stated, “It all started with [Dr. Nassar]”.

17-year old Jessica Thomashaw described her experience with Dr. Nassar as a black mark on her entire childhood. She stated, “He touched the most innocent places on my body… I forever lost a big piece of my childhood due to his abuse.” Olympic gold medalists Biles, Douglas, Maroney, and Raisman have all spoken out against Dr. Nassar, although they declined to be present at the hearing. Raisman tweeted one day before the hearing that a letter she wrote would be read aloud in lieu of her appearance. She stated, “I support the brave survivors. We are all in this together.”

Another victim, Melissa Imrie, described her 1997 abuse. She was twelve years old, had just broken her tailbone, and was abused by the doctor when she sought treatment. She stated that for years afterward, she suffered from severe depression, difficulty sleeping, and other issues. Speaking on behalf of young athletes everywhere, Imrie wants no one else to suffer like she did.

Nassar has pled guilty to molesting young women and girls with his hands under the guise of medical treatment. These actions took place at his office at Michigan State University, at his home, a local Michigan gymnastics club for girls, and while he was working for USA Gymnastics, an Indianapolis company that trains young Olympians. In November, Nassar admitted to digitally penetrating multiple young girls during a twenty-year period from 1998-2015. Prosecutors are seeking a steep sentence for the doctor, who has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for crimes relating to child pornography. The 54- year old doctor will likely spend most of his life in prison for his crimes, but these women will never get back their childhood.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/16/sports/lawrence-nassar-abuse-sentencing.html
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