SEARCH
« Minneapolis gets 'significantly heightened' security measures and resources for Super Bowl | Main | Former MSU softball player says she gave up the sport in wake of Nassar allegations »
Wednesday
Jan312018

More victims of sex assault to confront former US Olympic doctor at sentencing hearing

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) --  More than 60 women and girls began confronting former USA Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in another Michigan courtroom on Wednesday as a judge considers sentencing him to more years in prison a week after he was given up to 175 years for multiple counts of criminal sexual misconduct.

Nassar appeared in Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, where he pleaded guilty to three counts of felony sexual misconduct stemming from assaults on girls, including one under the age of 13.

Eaton County Circuit Judge Janice Cunningham is allowing many more victims to face Nassar in court.

Angela Povilaitis, the assistant Michigan Attorney General, said at the start of the hearing that 65 women have asked to give statements in court or have statements read on their behalf, but added that the number could climb. Cunningham has set aside four days for the sentencing hearing.

A week ago today, the 54-year-old Nassar was sentenced in a neighboring county to 40 to 175 years in prison after 156 victims asked Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to give the disgraced doctor the maximum punishment, saying he repeatedly sexually assaulted them under the guise of performing medical treatment.

The first victim to speak in court Wednesday was Jessica Thomashow, a high school senior who also spoke at the previous Nassar sentencing hearing.

"He first molested me when I was 9 -- when I was in the fifth grade, before I had braces, and when I still played with my American Girl dolls," the now 17-year-old girl said. “Larry Nassar preyed on us for his own pleasure, leaving in his wake traumatized and broken girls.”

Nassar also served for more than two decades as a sports medicine doctor at Michigan State University, where many victims said assaults took place in his examination room, sometimes in the presence of their parents.

Katherine Ebert, a former gymnast, said Nassar began molesting her at the age of 15 and that her mother, a physical therapist, was in the room when some of the assaults occurred.

 "You are the most vile, disgusting creature I have ever met. Scum of the earth is too high a title for you," Ebert told Nassar, who was seated just feet away from her and wearing an orange jumpsuit with the words Eaton County Jail on the back.

"I hope you realize that you will never have any power over anybody for the rest of your life," she said. "Standing in this courtroom today, and having my voice heard is a huge step in my personal healing process and I know that my story will prevent this from ever happening again."

Tiffany Dutton, a former gymnast, told Nassar that she was no longer afraid to speak out because of all the other women who have come forward. She said she's worried that her own child will be preyed on by another doctor like Nassar.

"I fear that I too will somehow unknowingly put my 2-year-old daughter in harm's way, just as my mother and many other mothers did," said Dutton, as her husband stood beside her.

Aquilina's sentencing of Nassar last week -- which she described in court as a "death warrant" -- was on top of 60 years he received after pleading guilty to federal charges of child pornography possession.

In the Eaton County case, Nassar faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, put prosecutors are asking Cunningham for a term of 40 to 125 years.

Nassar's sexual misconduct in Eaton County stems from assaults that occurred between 2009 and 2011 at Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, a gym run by John Geddert, who was head coach of the USA Olympic women's gymnastics squad that won the gold medal in team competition at the 2012 games in London.

In the fallout from the Nassar case, the USA Gymnastics Association suspended Geddert and barred him coaching at events sanctioned by the organization.

Following his suspension, Geddert issued a statement on the Twistars website, saying, “I am so incredibly disappointed in USA Gymnastics' letter and its false allegations that I have violated Safe Sport Policy."

"I can't express in words the anger, frustration and sense of helplessness we feel with regard to the Nassar criminal cases now going on in court. Our hearts ache for the victims as they deal with this unthinkable situation," he said. "We will fight these allegations at the appropriate time and place - but at this point in time, anything we do will distract and detract from the victims' statements at the Nassar sentencing hearing before Judge Aquilina."

At least four members of the so-called "Fierce Five" Olympic gymnastics team Geddert coached -- Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney -- all say they were molested by Nassar, who was the team doctor. Raisman, Wieber and Maroney spoke at Nassar's sentencing hearing last week.

Also in the aftermath of the Nassar scandal, the entire board of directors of USA Gymnastics resigned last week and Michigan State Attorney General Bill Schuette launched an investigation into how Michigan State University handled complaints against Nassar. Many victims who spoke at the Ingham County sentencing hearing said their complaints against Nassar were ignored, dismissed or discouraged by university officials.

The president of the Lansing school, Lou Anna Simon, resigned under pressure after coming under criticism for how she handled the Nassar scandal.

The Meridian Township, Michigan, Police Department announced Wednesday that it will hold a news conference on Thursday to apologize to one of the victims, Brianne Randall-Gay, who reported being sexually abused by Nassar back in 2004. During Nassar's hearing last week, Randall-Gay said the police believed Nassar over her and dropped the case.

"You had audacity to tell [police] I misunderstood the treatment because I was not comfortable with my body," Randall-Day told Nassar. "Sadly, they took your word instead of mine."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







ABC News Radio