Another wave of victims confronts disgraced sports doctor

Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP Larry Nassar enters Judge Janice Cunningham’s circuit courtroom Wednesday on the first day of victim impact statements in Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Mich., where he is expected to be sentenced on three counts of sexual assault some time next week.

CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Another wave of victims confronted disgraced former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar at his third and final sentencing hearing Wednesday, this time about sexual abuse at an elite Michigan club run by an Olympic coach.

 

The judge presiding over the case said the number of people who allege they were abused by Nassar has climbed to 265.

That total includes 150-plus victims who offered statements at a different hearing last week, as well as scores of new ones expected to speak over the next few days.

Nassar, who has already been sentenced on federal child-pornography charges and charges that he abused young women and girls while working at Michigan State University, faces another long prison sentence on top of the two he has already received.

“You are most vile, disgusting creature I have ever met,” said Katherine Ebert, who was a gymnast from 5 to 18 and started seeing Nassar at 15. “There are black holes in my memory that come back as nightmares or flashbacks, not wanting to believe they’re true.”

Nassar, once the doctor for the national gymnastics team, sat at a table with his lawyers as accusers rebuked him.

“You took advantage of my innocence and trust,” 17-year-old Jessica Thomashow said. “You were my doctor. Why? I ask myself that question all the time. What you did to me was twisted. You manipulated me and my entire family. How dare you.”

Judge Janice Cunning­ham has set aside several days for more than 60 victims who want to confront Nassar or have their statement read in the courtroom in Charlotte, a city outside Lansing.

The event could unfold much the same as last week’s proceedings in another county. That hearing ended with Nassar getting to 40 to 175 years in prison.

The case on Cunningham’s docket in Eaton County centers on Nassar’s assaults at Twistars, a Lansing-area gymnastics club that was run by 2012 Olympic coach John Geddert. Nassar admits penetrating three girls with his hands when he was supposed to be treating them for injuries.

Annie Labrie said what Nassar did to her made her “skin crawl,” but every adult around her assured her he was the only option, and she hid the abuse. She said Nassar’s pedophilia was not an isolated incident, and gymnastics and gyms like Twistars have a “specific culture” that allows people like him to flourish.

 

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