Day six of the Nassar sentencing hearing began Tuesday morning.
14 more survivors came forward overnight wishing to share impact statements, bringing the total to 158. Nassar is expected to be sentenced Wednesday.
Whitney Burns was the first to speak Tuesday. In 2001 her family was a in a car crash that ended in multiple injuries, and a family friend in critical condition. The injuries from the accident is what brought Burns to Nassar. “In my moments with Nassar I was robbed of my ability to dream of my future,” she says she was forced to live second by second just to survive.
“I was powerless to overcome my emotions, or to get any sort of help,” she felt “crazy” for the thoughts she was having. Because of the abuse she struggled with trust, and misplaced blame. “You stole my light, Larry Nassar, and I am now taking it back.” She says her eyes are now “open to the control that you had over me” during the time of abuse. She was not only sexually abused, but emotionally abused by Nassar as well.
Burns says she did the best she could, and she is proud of herself for making this statement today and standing up for herself. “The power that Larry Nassar held was given to him, and we are here to take it away.” She says that with time, the truth will always come out, and that time has made his victims stronger. She wants to ensure that nothing like this happens again in the future. “I know that time is going to bring us the truth. Larry Nassar, I am glad to participate in the end for you.”
Burns says her “success has only just begun.”
A poem was read on behalf of a survivor.
Isabell Hutchins struggled with coming forward, “I wasn’t sure if anyone would listen to me.” She says she was taught throughout her gymnastics career not to question authority, and not to speak up. “I am a part of our army of survivors, and there is strength in numbers.” She decided to share her story because of the younger girls in the gym, and for her little sister. “I wanted to give them strength and confidence.”
She started practicing at Twistars when she was 10 years old, and that’s when she met Nassar. “I told him everything.” She says when Nassar’s basement flooded her family went to his house to help clean out the basement. A couple days ago she found a box that she mailed to his house, it was items from the 1996 Olympics. Hutchins shared a letter that Nassar wrote to her.
She says the abuse would happen without permission from her, her parents, and without gloves. “He told me he would even told John how to stretch me the same way, but without penetration.” Hutchins told a teammate what happened to her, and asked if it was weird but her teammate said the same thing happened to her so she brushed it off.
Hutchins said after an injury she was told to visit Nassar, and was not allowed to get a second opinion. She says she would be at his house until 11pm at night, and then have a two hour car ride home, sometimes not getting home until 1 or 2am. She says for over a month she practiced, and competed on a broken leg because Nassar told her nothing was wrong. She has been told, recently, that she would need another surgery on her leg. She wonders if Nassar didn’t want her to heal so that he could continue to abuse her.
She refers to Nassar and Geddert as “the dynamic duo.” She believes they changed herself as a person, because of the abuse she suffered. “Because of the monster that is Larry Nassar I am afraid to trust anyone,” she says his actions were part of the grooming process. Hutchins struggles with trust issues, and says she is in a state of constant anxiety.
“My time at Twistars was the worst time of my life. It was the darkest time of my life, I was depressed, and it got to a point where I would physically harm myself,” she says the physical pain was easier to handle than the emotional pain. “I went through it alone, but I shouldn’t have had to. I shouldn’t have had to go through it at all. John Geddert, USAG, and MSU, how could you have let this happen?” She continues to call out John Geddert of Twistars, “we are just merely distractions to you.” She says, to Geddert, “we will come for you next.”
“You were never a real doctor, you did not heal me, you only hurt me.” Hutchins is pursuing a degree in the medical field.
Meaghan Ashcraft was in the courtroom, but had her statement read on her behalf. She was a gymnast for 14 years, she met “Inmate Nassar” when she was just 10 years old. He was highly recommended, known as “the best doctor.” She says at the first few appointments Nassar made her feel safe, always complimenting her, making her laugh and smile. “I now know he was grooming me.” Nassar told her that her hips had something to do with her ankles hurting, “I was so unaware of what was happening.” her mother was in the room during the time of the abuse, and Nassar would position himself so she couldn’t see what was happening. “It was then he began to touch me in places a little girl should never be touched.” The abuse continued for two years.
Because of the abuse she struggled with depression, “he used my body for his own gain, he took advantage of me when I had no voice to speak up.” She refers to Nassar as a predator, and pedophile. “He did this to so many girls, so many innocent girls.” Ashcraft still feels shame when remembering what happened to her, and struggles speaking about what happened. “He betrayed so many peoples trust, I still will not let a male doctor touch me from the waist down.”
She says she understands now that these feelings, and fears, are not her fault. They are Nassar’s fault. “I am no longer a victim of sexual abuse, I am a survivor.” She says she will overcome the abuse. She hopes her sister survivors can find peace knowing that Nassar will be locked away for a very long time.
Natalie Woodland spoke next, she is 16-years-old. “I am a victim of sexual abuse, that is not something that is easy to admit.” Woodland says she still struggles physically, mentally, and emotionally due to the trauma. “i trusted him to take care of me, my parents trusted him, and he used me as a toy for his own pleasure.”
Woodland continues to call out the organizations that she says let the victims down, “shame on you.” She was treated by Nassar at MSU, after the 2014 investigation. “No new protocols were followed, and I was abused again.” She says the organizations chose to protect their reputation, and money, instead of protecting the victims.
“I am strong, and I am beautiful, and I am bold,” she says that her story is important, and she has a right to be heard.
Jillian Swinehart, 15-years-old, shared her statement next. She was 8 years old when she started seeing Nassar, and continued until 2016. She say she was sexually abused by him at his house and at MSU. “I thought you were a good person, I thought I could trust you, but I was wrong.” Swinehart says Nassar will never be forgiven for his crimes, and she believes that Nassar does not feel guilty. “You have to be the most sick and twisted person ever to do that to young girls.”
“I am a victim of your trap, and manipulation, but it is not going to stop me.”
Anne Swinehart, the mother of Jillian shared a statement after her daughter. “She was only eight,” she says she struggles with guilt. She wonders how she missed the red flags, and misinterpreted Nassar’s intent. “To think that I had let this happen to my child when I was sitting right there,” she says she tried to rationalize it in a medical way. Her daughter said that maybe it was when her pelvis was hurt, but not when the pain was in her leg or back. Swinehart recalls her daughter grimacing in pain, and now understands that it was not a knotted muscle.
“You are all day tough, as your world crumbled around you you have stayed strong,” she says to her daughter. “You and all these ladies have shown that you, are all day tough.”
Alison Scauvette says Nassar, “stole my sparkle.” Originally, because of all the hype around Nassar, she was excited to have him as a doctor. After the first manipulation she was scared, it didn’t feel okay. She recalls pictures of Olympians covering his walls, “I must be crazy.” After the abuse, she wondered if she was still a virgin. She was 14-years-old, and the abuse continued for years. She spoke with other patients of Nassar, and they had similar stories to hers.
She was plagued with anxiety through high school, and college. She says she had her first date senior year of college, and refused to get close to him for the first 6 months of their relationship. “I was terrified of him discovering that I was crazy.” She says her boyfriend helped her learn to trust again, but she is unsure if she will ever fully trust.
Scauvette majored in bio medicine, but in the end she decided that she couldn’t follow her dream and become a doctor. “I only set appointments when the office refuses to fill my medications.” She fears that she will never get back trust in the medical field. She says Nassar referred to the abuse as “manipulation.” She says this is ironic, as he was “manipulating me, as a person.”
“I was raised to see the good in everybody, and never hate, but this is a very difficult thing to do.” She says Nassar knew what he was doing was wrong, and that he was in an environment that was detrimental. “This is the path you chose, to take, and you now get to pay for what you have done.” She says, the victims, as young girls were fooled. She calls out MSU, USAG, and society, for failing to “keep us safe.”
“We all deserve to sparkle.” She hopes that speaking out will encourage more to speak their truth.
Ana Dayton spoke next, her parents joined her at the podium.
She hopes speaking will help her, and other survivors to put the shame and guilt behind them. “For ten years you seemed to have all the answers to my problems,” she says she was optimistic and naive. “When I look at you now, I still see this person,” she believes this is due to his emotional and mental manipulation, and knows he is an abuser. “You were supposed to be the good guy, but instead you used your power, authority, to take advantage of me.”
“I am not a victim, no one here is a victim, we are all survivors.” She says she quit sports because of Nassar. “Your treatment and referrals only lead me to a darker path,” she questions all of it. She says Nassar referred her to surgeon that Nassar himself later admitted he had doubts about.
“I also find strength in this community of women,” she says though they share a struggle, and pain, they also share strength. “I am here to tell you that I am on the path of overcoming your manipulation.” She says she will decide who she will become, and write the ending to her own story. “I want our voices to be heard, and positive changes to be made.”
News 10’s Clayton Cummins was tweeting live from the courtroom. (See his tweets below or follow them here: @ClaytonCummins)