In Larry Nassar’s Case, a Single Voice Eventually Raised an Army

Rachael Denhollander had the first word and the last one.

A former gymnast who became a lawyer and a coach, Ms. Denhollander told The Indianapolis Star in 2016 that Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar had molested her as a child.

She had just read a report in The Star about U.S.A. Gymnastics’ mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against coaches. But no one had yet spoken up about Dr. Nassar, who molested young athletes for about two decades while pretending the abuse was therapy.

The Star soon published an article about the doctor, based on reports from two former gymnasts. One remained anonymous. The other was Rachael Denhollander — front and center, all alone there.

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It is my privilege to sentence you to 40 years. And when I look at my cheat sheet, 40 years, just so you know and you can count it off you calendar, is 480 months. The tail end, because I need to send a message to the parole board, in the event somehow God is gracious, and I know he is. And you survive the 60 years in federal court first and then you start on my 40 years. You’ve gone off the page here, as to what I’m doing. My page only goes 100 years. Sir, I’m giving you 175 years, which is 2,100 months. I’ve just signed your death warrant.

Lawrence G. Nassar, the former team doctor for the American gymnastics team, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years for sexual abuse. More than 150 victims, many of whom are former gymnasts, spoke at the sentencing hearing.CreditCredit…Brendan Mcdermid/ReutersBack

“You may find it harsh that you are here listening. But nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands.” “Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor.” “You are so strong and brave. And you are not broken — you are glued back together perfectly.” “Thank you, your honor.” “Thank you for being part of the sister survivors. Your voice means everything.” “Red flags may have been there, but they were designed to be hidden. You aren’t alone in this.” “Your priority should have been my health. Yet your priority was solely to molest me.” “You used my vulnerability at the time to sexually abuse me. I reported you to police immediately. And you had the audacity to tell them I had misunderstood this treatment because I was not comfortable with my body. How dare you.”

After opening her courtroom to athletes, coaches and parents, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has prompted dozens more to share their stories of sexual abuse by the former sports doctor Lawrence G. Nassar.CreditCredit…Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal, via Associated Press

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