The Most Impactful Statements From The Survivors Who Spoke At Larry Nassar’s Sentencing

After three days of statements in a Michigan court, Aly Raisman stood in front of Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor, last week to deliver hers. “You are nothing,” Raisman told the man who had abused her and at least 139 other women throughout his medical career. The two-time gold medal Olympian admitted that she was “scared and nervous” to speak out, but after hearing so many women come forward with their own stories, she knew she had to. “We are here,” she told Nassar. “We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.”

These voices — over 100 of them already with more slated to read their statements in court — include former USA Gymnastics team members McKayla Maroney and Jordan Wieber, who were treated by Nassar during his two decades as Team USA’s doctor. Others who spoke out included athletes who attended Michigan State University where Nassar also worked for years amidst sexual abuse allegations.  The Lansing State Journal reported that the first reported allegation against Nassar was in 1996 by a former gymnast.

Nassar previously pled guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 60 years in jail. As part of his plea deal, Nassar admitted that he used his position as a trusted medical professional to sexually abuse young girls. For these survivors, though, that punishment wasn’t enough. They wanted to make sure Nassar heard them tell their stories, to hear them talk about the effects his abuse had on them.

“Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice,” Raisman said in her statement. “Well, you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only just beginning to use them. All these brave women have power, and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve: a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.”

Now, the rest of us are listening to these empowering impact statements of survival that focus on moving forward with their lives.

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Kyle Stephens, family friend and neighbor

Kyle Stephens said that she was first abused by Nassar when she was six years old. When she was 12 years old, she told her parents about the abuse by their family friend, but no one believed her.

When she stood in front of the Michigan court as the first of Nassar’s victims to deliver their statement, though, everyone was listening. “Little girls don’t stay little forever,” Stephens said. “They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

McKayla Maroney, Olympic gold-winning gymnast

McKayla Maroney was not present in the court room to deliver her statement, but her presence was still felt. “Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” Maroney wrote in a statement read by the prosecutor. “He in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being. End of story.”

It’s not the end of her story, though. Maroney wrote that she will not stop speaking out against the leadership of Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee who allowed Nassar to continue to work with young woman. “Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long,” she wrote, “and it’s time to take our power back.”

Jordyn Wieber, Olympic gold-winning gymnast

Jordyn Wieber was the 69th survivor to come forward with her story of abuse, which began when she was 14 years old. “I knew it felt strange,” she said, “but he was the national team doctor” so she didn’t want to question his authority or risk her career.

Now, she’s angry at herself for not knowing it was abuse “and that’s something I’m struggling with today,” Wieber said. “But even though I am a victim. I do not and will not live my life as one. I am an Olympian. Despite being abused, I worked so hard and managed to achieve my goal.”

Gwen Anderson, former gymnast

In her statement, Gwen Anderson fought back to tears to talk about the pain Nassar had caused her as a child, telling the court that she was scared to speak out. For the middle school students she teaches, she spoke out realizing “this moment is not my weakest moment, this is my moment of strength.”

“We are going to move forward, we are going to live our best lives, because we are fighters and we are strong,” she said. “We overcome impossible odds, because that’s what we were trained to do, because that’s what we know how to do — because we are gymnasts.”

Jamie Dantzscher, former Olympic gymnast

When Jamie Dantzscher first came forward with her allegations against Nassar in 2016, she said that she was attacked on social media, but she continued to speak up. “I couldn’t stand the thought of this happening to one of my nieces, nephews or any other child that may have crossed paths with Larry, or anyone like him,” she said in her statement.

She stood in front of the court to say that Nassar’s “days of manipulation are over,” but “I will continue to heal, and I will continue to stay strong, knowing I have a bright future ahead of me. All your future holds, all you get to look forward to now is rotting in prison for the rest of your life.”

Nassar will feel “forever powerless,” Dantzscher said, but she won’t. “Now I can finally say that I am truly proud of myself for something I’ve done related to my elite gymnastics career.”

Tiffany Thomas Lopez, former Michigan State softball player

In her statement, Tiffany Thomas Lopez explained how Nassar had taken the joy out of softball for her, creeping into to all her memories surrounding that time in her life in which she was named to the 1999 USA Junior National softball team. It’s only now that she said she was ready to live again, ready to “be released by your clench.”

“Since you decided to tell the truth about sexually assaulting an army of young women, I’m choosing to stand tall with them and fight back,” Lopez said. “We seek justice, we deserve justice, and we will have it.”

Maggie Nichols, former national team gymnast

Maggie Nichols didn’t appear in court to read her statement. Instead, her mom Gina Nichols did. Her mom said that it was too difficult for Rogers — who claims she was the first person to report Nassar’s abuse to USA Gymnastics officials in 2015 — to stand in front of the court.

Still, she wrote that she was “making the decision to tell her traumatic story and hope to join the forces of my friends and teammates to bring about true change,”

Amanda Thomashow, former Michigan State University student

Amanda Thomashow, who first reported Nassar in 2014, had a very clear message for the former doctor, who she said sexually assaulted her during a medical appointment at the university. “Larry,” she said, “the thing you didn’t realize while you were sexually assaulting me and all of these young girls and breaking our lives is that you were also building an army of survivors who would ultimately expose you for what you truly are — a sexual predator.”

While he will be known as a predator, she and the other women who have come forward will not be known as victims. “You might have broken us,” Thomashow said, “but from this rubble we will rise as an army of female warriors who will never let you or any man drunk off of power get away with such evil ever again.”

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