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Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
LANSING, Mich. - One after one, gymnasts and other victims of a disgraced former sports doctor stepped forward in a Michigan courtroom Tuesday to recount the sexual abuse and emotional trauma he inflicted on them as children, including one who warned that girls eventually "grow into strong women that return to destroy your world."
Nearly 100 victims are expected to address the court during the four-day sentencing hearing for 54-year-old Larry Nassar. Many cried as they told their stories on the hearing's first day, and some requested anonymity. Others unleashed.
"I testified to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar and those `treatments' were pathetically veiled sexual abuse," victim Kyle Stephens said to Nassar, who often bowed his head and closed his eyes or looked away as she and others spoke.
Stephens, the first victim to speak, said Nassar repeatedly abused her from age 6 until age 12 during family visits to his home in Holt, near Lansing. She said he rubbed his genitals on her and digitally penetrated her, among other abuse.
She said Nassar denied it, and her parents initially believed him. Stephens said she largely blamed her father's suicide on the shame and self-loathing he felt for defending Nassar.
"Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don't stay little forever," Stephens said. "They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world."
The judge consoled the 29 women and girls who spoke or had their statements read on Tuesday, saying they should not blame themselves. More victims will speak today.
Nassar has pleaded guilty to molesting females with his hands at his Michigan State University office, his home and a Lansing-area gymnastics club, often while their parents were in the room. He also worked for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.
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