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The victims of Larry Nassar get their day in court: "Little girls do not stay small forever"

Larry Nassar, the disgraced former gymnast of EE. UU And Michigan state team doctor, he heard more than a dozen of his victims of sexual abuse read the impact statements in a court in East Lansing, Michigan, on Tuesday.

The sentencing hearing began at 9 on Tuesday morning and will last until Thursday afternoon. Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual misconduct in first grade in November. According to Assistant Attorney General of the State of Michigan, Angela Povilaitis, 98 victims and relatives of victims are scheduled to read impact statements during the week.

Many of the survivors of sexual abuse who spoke in court on Tuesday had been named anonymously in lawsuits and came out publicly for the first time when making their statements. Almost everyone asked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to sentence Nassar to a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 125 years in prison, which is in line with the prosecutor's request.

The morning began with a fascinating speech by Kyle Stephens, a friend of Nassar's family and the only known victim who was not an athlete or dancer. Stephens said she was sexually abused by Nassar for years, starting when she was only 6.

"You used my body for six years for your own sexual gratification, that's unforgivable," Stephens told Nassar.

Little girls do not stay small forever. They become strong women who come back to destroy your world.
Kyle Stephens, survivor of sexual abuse

The young woman said that Nassar's abuse came between her and her parents when she tried to talk about it. They did not believe him for years. His father committed suicide in 2016, Stephens said, after realizing he had not lied.

"If he had not had to endure the shame and self-hatred that arose from his defense of Larry Nassar, he would have had a fighting chance," he said, referring to his father's suicide.

Stephens looked directly at Nassar as he concluded with a powerful note: "Little girls do not stay small forever." They become strong women who come back to destroy your world. "

Nassar has been accused by 140 women of serial sexual abuse during his past seasons as a team doctor of gymnastics from the US, a physician with various sports teams at Michigan State University and a sports doctor at the Michigan Twistars gymnasium, of which 125 have filed lawsuits against Nassar, USA Gymnastics, MSU and Twistars.

Olivia Cowan, now married and the mother of two young daughters, was visibly moved to talk about the side effects of Nassar's abuse.

"This case has taken me everything, every ounce of my being, to move forward," he said. He added, "I will educate my children about monsters like you and I will pray to God that they will never experience." pain like this "

This case has taken me everything, every ounce of my being, to move on.
Olivia Cowan, survivor of sexual abuse

Cowan also addressed MSU and USA Gymnastics, who have been accused of covering up the doctor's behavior for two decades.

"It's horrible that MSU and USA Gymnastics do not get down to work to admit their misdeeds … I want MSU and USAG to know that what they have done is at the same level of responsibility that Nassar has committed," Cowan said with tears in his eyes. the eyes. "MSU knew what was being done with these athletes and decided to turn a blind eye to keep their reputation strong and their pockets full, if only they had acted on the first report, they would have saved me and all the other women waiting for us today. "

The university has denied hiding Nassar's behavior in any way.

"Any suggestion that the university covered Nassar's horrible behavior is simply false," MSU spokesman Jason Cody told HuffPost earlier this month. "Nassar took advantage of his victims, changing their lives in terrible ways." As [MSU] President Simon said, MSU truly laments the abuse suffered by all victims, the pain it caused and the pain it still causes. "

Cowan also brought up the news last month that former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney was paid by USA Gymnastics to keep silent about the abuse he endured at the hands of Nassar .

"It's a shame that [USA Gymnastics] has looked the other way when this was reported," Cowan said. "A public apology after you've been hiding behind this monster for more than 20 years will never be enough." Where were you when we needed you? If you had only listened to women who brought complaints and concerns over all these years, this would have saved them. to so many children and women of abuse and of all the scars that this has created. "

In one of the most moving statements of the day, Donna Markham spoke on behalf of her daughter Chelsea, who was abused by Nassar.

"He never really recovered," Markham said of his daughter, whom he described as his "best friend."

"I was supposed to help her heal, but he did not do that, he abused her," Markham told the court. "He had the audacity to do it while I was sitting in the room"

She went on to reveal why Chelsea was not delivering this impact statement. "He took his own life because he could no longer deal with the pain," Markham said. "It will be 10 years in March that I lost my baby, she was 23 years old … I miss her every day, every day, and it all started with him"

Judge Aquilina repeated to each victim that he spoke that the abuse they had suffered was not their fault.

"You are worthy," he told survivor Danielle Moore. "This was done for you, it was not done for you"

The judge assured Jessica Thomashow, 17, that she will be healed. "You're talking about being broken, it's going to break while you're healing and I think it's going to stay broken," he said.

In another powerful moment, the survivor Kate Mahon quoted the writer Jasmin Kaur when she said: "Shout so that one day in a hundred years, another sister does not have to dry her tears wondering where she lost in history". his voice "

Mahon added that he came forward to speak on behalf of all survivors of sexual abuse.

" By speaking publicly against from Larry Nassar, I'm not just talking about myself, "he said." I'm talking about all the girls and women of the past, present and future who have been or will be affected by the sexual assault. "

Other survivors who spoke on Tuesday included Jade Capua and Alexis Moore.

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