ThinkProgress

Remember the women who spoke out against Larry Nassar

Getty Images/Diana Ofosu, ThinkProgress

One by one, over seven days, Larry Nassar’s victims stood up in front of the court room in Lansing, Michigan, and demanded to be heard.

“You seem to have a hard time looking at me now, but you didn’t when I was half naked on your table,” 16-year-old Arianna Guerrero told Nassar on the third day.

“You better sit up straight, listen to what I have to say, and act like you’re somewhat [remorseful] for your actions,” said Bayle Pickel on day four. “I want you to continue to look at me while I speak, because that is the attention I deserve,” Selena Brennan said on day six.

After years of being manipulated and silenced, shamed and betrayed, and abused and endangered by Nassar — along with the institutions and authority figures that employed and enabled him — these 156 young women commanded attention from their abuser and held nothing back.

Kyle Stephens was the first victim to provide her impact statement. She was a family friend of Nassar’s, and the only known victim of his who wasn’t abused under the guise of medical treatment. Her nightmare began when Nassar exposed his penis to her in the dark boiler room in his basement when she was only six years old. 

I have been coming for you for a long time,” Stephens said.

On Wednesday, Judge Aquilina sentenced an unrepentant Nassar to up to 175 years in prison. He’ll never see the light of day as a free man again.

But we can’t ever let their words be forgotten.

We must remember how skillfully Nassar and his enablers weaponized his reputation, and used it to shield him from any questions or concerns.

“I bragged to my friends that my doctor was the Olympic doctor,” said Nicole Reeb, a dancer who first saw Nassar in 1997.

“I idolized you, the rest of the world idolized you,” said Amanda Smith, who was eight when she started gymnastics.

“I walked into his office the first time and saw every one of my idols framed on his wall,” said Jaime Doski, who was abused by Nassar for 13 years. Taryn Look saw the same photos when she visited him, and Nassar pointed to an iconic photo on his wall where he was helping Kerri Strug off of the mat at the 1996 Olympics. “That’s me,” Look recalled him saying. “I repaired her so she could do that.”

“I was told to trust him, that he would treat my injuries and make it possible for me to achieve my Olympic dreams,” said 2012 Olympic champion McKayla Maroney.

“I would have trusted him with my life,” said Samantha Daniels.

We must remember how meticulously he groomed these young girls, how he used flattery and kindness to break down boundaries and blur lines.

“He contacted me on Facebook, complimenting me and telling me how beautiful I looked on numerous occasions,” said Maggie Nichols.

“He put my picture on the wall with the Olympians, I thought I was special,” said 15-year-old Emma Ann Miller.

In the summer of 2015, Nassar offered to pick up Ashley Bremer and drive her to her appointment at MSU because she didn’t have a ride. “He greeted me with a stack of papers,” said Bremer. “It was information on a modeling career.” 

“He’d always squeeze you in if you needed him; it was almost too good to be true,” said Christina Barba, who was close friends with Nassar for 30 years, and just came to terms last week with the abuse she experienced at his hands as a minor.

We must remember that Nassar was considered a miracle worker, and that people who had appointments with him were often in excruciating pain and at end of their rope.

The woman identified during the proceedings as Victim 126 was a freshman in high school, “determined to get relief and answers” so she could get back to running, when she started seeing Nassar. He was Breanne Rata’s “last hope” to save her dreams of being a pro dancer. The woman identified as Victim 142 sought Nassar out “as a last resort.”

I was in a state of great desperation when I first made my trip to see Dr. Nassar. Or, as he liked his patients to call him, Larry,” said 17-year-old Jade Capua.

This made his patients particularly susceptible to manipulation. And we must remember that Nassar always masterfully preyed on the vulnerable and the weary.

“For a young girl away from her home, being worked into exhaustion by strength coaches, a kindly doctor, offering relief from pain, and almost sympathy, was easy to like,” said Jeanette Antolin, a gymnast on the national team from 1995-2000.

“You molested a little girl who had just lost her father,” said Kamerin Moore. “Was I not suffering enough? Or was my suffering making it that much more pleasurable for you?”

We must remember the details of Nassar’s abuse, so they don’t get tempered with time.

“He slid his ungloved hand up my leg and back into the most innocent part of my body and I felt searing pain,” said Jessica Thomashow, who was a nine-year-old child who dreamed of being a doctor when she met Nassar. “For 30 minutes he inserted his fingers into me and grunted while I laid there terrified.” Her dream ended that day.

He told Melissa Imrie in 1997 he needed to massage her muscles anally to treat her fractured tailbone. Instead, he digitally penetrated her vagina. She was 12. “I just remember being in so much pain, tears streaming down my face, holding onto the table, just shaking, screaming, gritting my teeth,” she said. While this was happening, Nassar and her mother were holding a casual conversation.

We must remember how young these athletes were; how unfamiliar they were with their changing bodies.

“It felt like he was ripping my vagina apart,” said Clasina Syrovy. “My vagina was sore during my competition because of this man. How disgusting is that to even say out loud,” said Amy Labadie, a formerly-proud MSU alum who once got a bacterial infection from Nassar because he put his fingers from her anus to her vagina without gloves.

“Before I knew what was happening, you stuck your bare hand down my sports bra to massage my breast,” said former MSU rower Catherine Hannum. “As I looked left to your figure standing beside me, I saw a bulge in your pants,” said Kassie Powell.

“Nassar put direct pressure on places I didn’t know existed at the time, and my body reacted. I didn’t want it to,” said former MSU volleyball player Jennifer Rood Bedford.

“I remember having thoughts, when I was face down on his table, that were so sexual. I was so embarrassed to have these thoughts,” said Anna Ludes, a MSU rower from 2010-2014.

“If I didn’t bring shorts, he would give me his daughter’s shorts to wear,” said high school student Brooke Hylek.

“In my gut, something was wrong with this situation. Unfortunately, I didn’t trust my gut,” said Kourtney Weidner. “Growing up, sexual assault was a vague and distant topic. Young girls are taught to believe that it’s easily recognizable,” said Katherine Gordon.

“How was I supposed to know at the age of 13 what was medically acceptable and what the boundaries were?” said Kara Johnson.

“He would tell me to relax, as he would close his eyes,” said Abigayle Bergeron. “He was getting pleasure from this.”

We must remember that Nassar would often assault his young victims while their parents or guardians were in the room — he was that brazen, that calculated.

“I thought, ‘he’s a famous doctor, there’s no way he’d do something inappropriate in front of my mom’,” said Nicole Soos, who was an aspiring figure skater when she was first assaulted by Nassar.

“My parents, who had my best interests at heart, will forever have to live with the fact that they continually brought their daughter to a sexual predator and were in the room as he assaulted me,” said Marie Anderson.

“I, too, am a victim of sexual abuse,” said Sherry Bradley, the mother of Vanasia Bradley. “As a mother, I have done everything to protect my daughters from this. Then to find out it was happening under my nose?”

We must remember the concerns so many of these women had about Nassar’s “treatments,” concerns which were then downplayed by society or confidants or even by their own self-doubt.

Jessica Smith told her dance friends that Nassar penetrated her vagina while treating her for a severe ankle sprain. “They laughed and joked that Nassar was the first guy to finger them,” she said.

“Athletic trainers knew he was handsy and joked about it,” said Jessica Tarrant.

“When I told my mom that it hurt, she thought I was talking about the pain in my back, not the pain in my vagina for the excruciating hour of assault that had just taken place,” said Bethany Bauman.

“As I stand here, I still flash back to the feelings of the fear laying frozen in his office, my sweaty, shaking body, adrenaline pumping, painfully clutching the side of the table, waiting for the treatment to be over,” said Megan Halicek. 

“Will anyone believe I’m still a virgin? Am I still a virgin? Did he stretch it all out?” Alison Chauvette asked herself.

“I remember thinking how odd it was that a grown man in his 40s was touching me this way,” said Morgan Margraves. “I didn’t know how to seek out and tell anyone what had happened out of embarrassment and fear,” said Katelyn Skrabis.

We must remember to empower young girls and women to trust their own intuition, especially when it comes to their bodies.

“Before every appointment I’d hide in the bathroom, and after every appointment, I couldn’t wait to shower, because I’d always leave feeling so dirty. Yet no amount of showers made me feel clean,” said Madeleine Jones, who is currently a freshman at Boston College.

“I’d never seen a gynecologist, never had a pap smear, and at the time, I thought this was what it meant to be a woman going to the doctor — awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable, but honestly, just part of the deal,” said Rebecca Mark.

“After the time you offered up your own office for my dad to step out of the room and take a phone call, so we were alone in the exam room, I knew how and where you were touching me was not a legit medical treatment,” said 17-year-old Stephanie Robinson.

“I only noticed things were off because I still have trouble with my hip, and I have to see another sports medicine doctor, one who doesn’t make me take off my pants,” said Arianna Castillo.

We must remember the victims who pushed aside the factors stacked against them — the grooming, the self doubts — and reported their abuse anyway, only to be ignored or discouraged by those in authority.

“Back in 1997, you know that a teammate and I brought concerns about what you were doing to Kathie Klages, on the same night,” said Larissa Boyce said. “But instead of notifying authorities or even my parents, we were interrogated. Imagine that?”

In a statement read on her behalf, the woman identified as Victim 55 said she, too notified “Kathie,” but that MSU’s “reputation” was put above protecting her.

Tiffany Thomas Lopez, a softball player at MSU, reported Nassar’s abuse to trainers at MSU in 1999, but was similarly discouraged.

Brianne Randall reported the abuse to the Meridian Township Police in 2004, and even had a rape exam conducted. “I sat in a cold hospital room, and tensed as they took the samples. I feared that nobody would believe me. Unfortunately, this fear became a reality,” she said. 

Katie Rasmussen tried telling people Nassar was abusing her during the two years he treated her at Twistars. “Absolutely nobody believed me. I was told I was making it up, that I was messed up,” Rasmussen said. “I was 11 the first time I realized that no one cared or saw what happened to me.”

Amanda McGeachie, a varsity rower at MSU from 2008-2012, told Nassar that “two of my teammates told two separate sports medicine psychiatrists what you were doing,” but nothing was done. Then in 2014, Amanda Thomashow told MSU and triggered a Title IX investigation and report. “The investigation by MSU was brief and sloppy, and it left me feeling disposed and worthless,” she said. Some restrictions were put in place after the investigation, but never enforced. 

“I was never notified about Larry’s restrictions that were placed on him,” said Melody Posthuma Van der Veen, who was treated by Nassar at MSU in 2016.

We must remember those who literally screamed, cried, and pleaded to be saved from Nassar.

“I knew immediately it was abuse,” said Lindsay Schuett, a 34-year-old who currently lives and works in South Korea. So she told her high-school counselor and her mother, but they not only didn’t tell the right people; they made her go back for another appointment. She begged him not to do the same “treatment,” but he insisted it was for her own good.

“I needed to break free from his abuse, nobody was going to help me and he wasn’t going to stop, so that day, as his ungloved hands penetrated me again, I screamed out,” she said. “At first I was terrified of what would happen next. It went silent, he stopped for a moment, but then it became clear that he was going to go right back to his abuse. As he began to penetrate me once more, I screamed out, and this time, let it all go. I couldn’t hold in my suffering anymore. I was going to scream and wail until he never touched me again. I was going to sob so loudly that not only did it match the seething anger I had inside, but it would alert every single person in that building that something was incredibly wrong in that doctor’s office.”

Nobody reported Nassar, but after that appointment, he did refer Schuitt to a different female doctor in the program.

W

e must remember the emotional suffering Nassar caused, even among his victims who didn’t recognize it as sexual abuse at the time.

Chelsea Markham’s mother still remembers her daughter sobbing after her final treatment with Nassar, when she was 12 years old. In 2009, at the age of 24, Chelsea took her own life. “He was supposed to help her heal,” Chelsea’s mother said. “But he didn’t.”

“I have no trust in the medical field. I have not had a primary care doctor since my pediatritian, and I am now 33,” Anya Gillengerten, who currently works at MSU and was initially afraid to speak out over fear of losing her job.

“I never danced the same after I saw you,” said the woman identified as Victim A.N.. “In a way, I feel trapped inside my own body,” said the woman identified as Victim 127, when describing her intimacy issues.

“My beautiful girl went from a social butterfly, to a sullen, quiet girl who doesn’t trust anyone,” said the mother of Victim 185, referring to her 14-year-old. “My daughter doesn’t sleep, she has anxiety attacks,” said the mother of Victim 73 — who was assaulted hundreds of times by Nassar.

“My daughter is probably the most recent victim of Mr. Nassar,” the mother of Victim 165 said in a statement. “Her innocence, her childhood, her spirit, her confidence, and everything she believed in, has been broken.”

“I used to look back at my life and wonder where everything went wrong,” said Kristen Thelen, who has suffered from depression, eating disorders, sleepless nights, self harm, and addiction since she was abused by Nassar at the age of 15. “The abuse may have happened 5 years ago, but I am still affected every day,” Megan Ginter said.

“I was convinced I was simply bad at being a human,” added Emily Morales.

“Because of Mr. Nassar’s complete lack of empathy and care for my well-being, I still feel unworthy of a pain-free life,” said Danielle Moore, who has had three major back surgeries in the last five years.

“To this day, 17 years later, I still have nightmares and trouble sleeping because of the sexual assault you inflicted on me,” said Jennifer Hayes, a former MSU student who is now pregnant. Maureen Payne still can’t look at a MSU logo without thinking of the “stench of sweat dripping off of Nassar as he treated me.”

“My husband has learned to clap his hands or make other noises before entering a room, so I don’t jump,” said Marta Stern. “This sexual assault and molestation has affected my job, my dreams, my trust,” said Taylor Cole.

“For years, I threw up, cut myself, subjected myself to abusive relationships,” said three-time national champion Jessica Howard

Katelynne Hall stopped gymnastics at 16 because she didn’t want to be treated by Nassar anymore, even though it was “the one thing I truly love and excelled at.”

“I’m angry for all the times in my life I sat there and I googled this so-called treatment to help myself sleep at night,” said Lyndsy Gamet, who was abused in 1992, when she was 11 or 12, at Great Lakes Gymnastics Club. “It didn’t help, because it didn’t exist. I still can’t sleep at night.”

We must remember the physical suffering the victims are still experiencing, too. Nassar would promise miracles, but he often failed to execute the basics.

In 2003, Nassar diagnosed Amanda Cormier with a stress fracture in her lower spine. She wore a back brace for months. When she got her medical reports at the beginning of this legal process, she found statements from multiple doctors saying that “no fracture is seen.”

In 2011, Nassar told Isabell Hutchins that her leg was fine, when it was actually broken. “Am I still having pain today because my doctor was more concerned with sexually abusing me than he was about my physical health?” she asked.

“The injury I suffered in 2000 still brings me pain,” said Charla Burill.

We must remember how the 2016 Indianapolis Star investigation into Nassar’s abuse was not only the first big step on the road to accountability; it was the first time many of his victims recognized the abuse for what it was. Trauma is always buried right under the surface.

“When I saw Nassar on the news, I immediately knew, and the truth came crashing down on me,” said Whitney Burns.

“I was stopped at the red light by my home. There was a picture of him on my phone. I had to pull over. I dry heaved in the street while sobbing uncontrollably,” said the woman identified as Victim 2. 

Gwen Anderson was watching the news, when the anchor began reporting the story. “Just by his description I knew his pic was about to pop on the screen, then it did. My heart sank.”

“As the reports continued to surface, I began to feel nauseous, because they hit so close to home,” said the woman identified as Victim 136.

We must remember how powerful denial can be. Even after the IndyStar published its massive investigation exposing Nassar’s abuse, many of his colleagues — and even some of his victims — still couldn’t believe the magnitude and scope of his behavior.

“People did not believe me. They believed him. People didn’t believe me, even people I thought were my friends. They called me a liar, a whore, and said I was making it all up for attention,” said Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian and one of the first victims who came forward to accuse Nassar.

“I thought the women who had reported the sexual assault must be mistaken,” said Kate Mahon. “I defended you to a fault,” said Jenelle Moul.

“I thought training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do. But in fact, the hardest thing I have ever had to do is process that I’m a victim of Larry Nassar,” said 2012 Olympian Jordyn Wieber.

“I tried rejecting the fact that I was molested by Nassar because it seemed like the easiest way to cope,” said 15-year-old Madeline Johnson. Anna Dayton actually sent Nassar a message of support after the article came out. “It was my way of not saying #MeToo.” 

“I didn’t want people to look at me differently, I didn’t want people to look at me as broken,” said Kayla Spicher.

“There’s a part of me that still remembers him with fondness,” said Megan Farnsworth. “I grieve for myself and for him.”

Some victims, like Alexis Moore, didn’t come to terms with the truth until 37,000 units of child pornography were seized from his computer in December. That’s when she realized Nassar had abused her hundreds of times over a 10-year span. “To me, he was like a knight in shining armor,” Moore said. “But alas, that shine blinded me from abuse.”

Some just came around during the sentencing hearing itself.

“Larry, you brought me close to you so you could make me think you were a good person. But all along it was only to help yourself,” said Valerie Webb, who was one of Nassar’s most vocal defenders in the media for much of 2017.

“I had to make an extremely hard choice this week Larry. I had to choose whether to keep supporting you through this or to support them, the girls. I choose them, Larry,” said Trenea Gonzcar, who has known Nasar for 31 of her 37 years and was abused by him over 800 times.

We must remember that Nassar continued to lie to and manipulate his victims and their families, even as his crimes came caving in on him.

On September 18, 2016, two days before he was fired by MSU, Nassar responded to a message of support from Olivia Venuto’s parents. “It’s amazing how the media has crucified me, and now others want to join the bandwaggon of saying that I touched them wrong too,” he said, according to Venuto.

Nassar messaged Kaylee McDowell on Facebook the day after he was arrested.“You were saying how I should pray for you and you were glad you at least got to be home with your family for the holiday. I still believed you at the time, and I loved you at the time. Loved you.” 

We must remember that it’s not just the victims who suffer, but their families and communities, too.

“In the recent months, I am the most unhappy I have ever been,” said Erin McCann. “Ever since I realized what it was you were actually doing to me, it has been hell,” said Ashley Erickson.

“The world that we live in does not allow time to heal, and it never will,” said Olivia Cowan.

“Taking a simple walk which used to be calming, is now exhausting. I have to convince myself that every person I see is not going to hurt me,” said Alliree Gingerich. “I am broken. I feel life has been sucked out of me,” said Carrie Hogan said.

“How do I explain this to my son?” said Nicole Walker, who recently took her son to his first real exam, and was hesitant to have the doctor check him for a hernia. “Larry, because of you and your actions, I am terrified to let my daughter be a gymnast some day,” said Krista Wakeman.

“Sometimes I don’t want [my boyfriend] to touch me and I don’t know why,” said Whitney Mergens.

“I’m not mad for me, I’m mad for my dad,” said Taylor Livingston, whose father died last January, unaware that his daughter was a victim, and still believing people were tainting Nassar’s reputation. She just couldn’t tell him. 

Emily Meinke understands. In the early 1990s, her father donated an exam table to Nassar’s gym. “I thank God that my father is no longer alive … to hear the details about the abuse that took place on that table,” said Meinke.

We must remember to keep fighting for accountability for the institutions that let these girls and women down.

“I can’t help but wonder, how many little girls could have been spared from this lifelong battle if someone at the university had just done the bare minimum and listened,” said Morgan McCaul, who wasn’t even born when MSU was first notified of Nassar’s abuse. 

“This is what it looks like when institutions create a culture where a predator can flourish unafraid and unabated and this is what it looks like when people in authority refuse to listen, put friendships in front of the truth, fail to create or enforce proper policy and fail to hold enablers accountable,” said Rachael Denhollander. 

“It is discouraging and infuriating seeing how my university has handled this horrific situation,” said MSU senior Christine Harrison. “As a student-athlete, I didn’t get to choose my doctor; they were provided to me by the institution,” said the woman identified as Victim 186, a former MSU softball player. “I trusted USAG to provide me with a world-class doctor,” said Jessica Chedler Rodriguez.

The victims have been ruthless in addressing this as a systemic problem. Every day of the hearing, victims called out enablers by name. And suddenly, after years of deflections and denials, heads began to metaphorically roll.

“Continuing to issue statements of empty promises thinking that will pacify us will no longer work,” two-time Olympian Aly Raisman said, referring to USA Gymnastics and the International Olympic Committee. This week, three members of the USAG board resigned. The IOC has called for the entire USAG board to step down.

In her speech, Makayla Thrush said her coach at Twistars, John Geddert, once “threw me on top of the low bar, ruptured the lymph nodes in my neck, gave me a black eye, and tore the muscles in my stomach.”

“Nassar played good cop to Geddert’s bad cop,” said 22-year-old Bailey Lorencen, who was almost paralyzed due to Geddert’s abuse, said. USAG announced that Geddret was suspended on Monday. He announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Last week, USAG severed ties with the controversial Karolyi Ranch. Then victims honed in on another enabler. “The team’s athletic trainer, Debbie Van Horn, would often leave the room when Nassar started his treatments, saying she was going to get a meal, to bed, or such,” said Victim 178. This week, USAG announced Van Horn was no longer with the organization. 

Many, including Spartan senior Lindsey Lemke, criticized MSU President Ana Lou K. Simon. “You are no president of mine,” Lemke said. Simon defiantly resigned on Wednesday.

“We are here to show you MSU, USA Gymnastics, and the world that there is no white flag to wave it comes to protecting young girls,” said Sterling Riethman, who was sexually abused — with accupuncture needles still in her spine — when she was 20 years old.

We must remember these victims’ resiliency.

“I cannot run from this, I have to face it,” said Presley Allison. “I refuse to let a monster control the rest of my life,” said Ashley Yost. “I may look like a lamb on the outside, but I’m a lion on the inside,” said Natalie Woodland.

“I’ve tried my best to gain back the strength I once had, nothing is easy at all,” said Chelsea Zerfas. “Fighting is the answer, even though it won’t make it right, fighting not only for yourself, but for the ones you tuck in at night,” said Victim 138 in a poem.

“It’s time for me to move on, and this is how I am going to start,” said Samantha Ursch.

“Though I will forever have to say #MeToo, I will not let that define me in the future,” said Meaghan Ashcraft.

“For once in my life I can say, USAG and Larry Nassar, I am tough enough. It’s you that are weak by preying on and degrading young children,” said Victim 162.

We must remember how much they put on the line to come forward, to speak so publicly.

“Every time someone Googles them, for the rest of their lives, they will see the sickening things we’re talking about here today,” said Marion Siebert.

“Many of my relatives do not know about these assaults,” said the woman identified as Victim 10. “I’m afraid they will say the same thing that all critics can so easily mutter: Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

We must remember how powerful the victims became when they rose as a collective force.

“These women, these warriors, give me life,” said Sterling Riethman. “They lit a fire inside me that I never knew existed.”

“Because of the bravery of the women who refused to be silent, I can finally see past your brainwashing,” Abigail Mealy said, with another Nassar victim, her 17-year-old sister, Amanda, standing right beside her.

“The army you chose in the late 90s to silence me, to dismiss me and my attempt at speaking the truth, will not prevail over the army you created when violating us,” said Tiffany Thomas Lopez.

Victim 170’s mother said her daughter told her this week that she “wants to be strong like Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman.”

We must remember their righteous anger, and their willingness to look evil in the eye and call it out.

“Lawrence G. Nassar, you are a narcissistic psychopath,” said Annette Hill. ““This is not Judge Aquilina’s so-called circus like you called it, this is your hell, and I hope you burn in it,” said Alexis Alvarado.

“You said that now is the time for healing,” said Chelsea Williams. “For you, the pain is just beginning,” said Alexandra Romano.

 “You were in the best position to help people. But at times you chose to do the exact opposite,” said Lindsay Woolever. 

“I have buried this for so long,” said Victim 177. “This is not my shame anymore, it is yours,” said 18-year-old Helena Weick.

“Your kindness was simply a ploy to molest me every chance you got. I can’t even put into words how much I fucking hate you,” said Mattie Larson.

“I will find comfort knowing he … will suffer the consequences of his actions in this lifetime and beyond,” said Amanda Barterian.

“We are survivors, we are here to make sure this never happens again, and we are here to be remembered, which we will be,” said Morgan Valley.

“Who was that first girl?” asked the woman identified as Victim 125. “Am I her? Do you even remember?”

We must remember — and support — their fight for a better tomorrow.

“I want future generations to have a better way to report sexual assault, and to not have to carry the shame with them,” said Victim 11.

“I have contacted my principal and talked to some teachers about inserting sexual assault awareness in my school curriculum somehow so that I might be able to prevent a monster like you from destroying others,” said Hannah Morrow.

“Even though I have lost my faith in doctors, you have made me want to make me be a doctor even more, so I can make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said 15-year-old Jillian Swinehart, who saw Nassar up until the time he was fired from MSU.

We must remember that this abuse was fueled not by one man, but by a larger society that prioritizes winning over safety, and comfort over truth.

“Even with him behind bars, the pain, embarrassment, and disgust will never be washed away,” said Lauren Michalak.

“We must forever fight tyranny and never give up,” said Katie Payne. 

“Because of you, my life has been forever changed,” said Taylor Stevens.

One of the adults in charge — any of the adults in charge — should have been able to see through Nassar’s facade of gentility and adoration. Someone should have seen the monster that was hiding in plain sight. They didn’t. We didn’t.

That’s why we must continue to sit with the words and the stories of the survivors and their families, and let their lessons seep into our consciousness, so that history doesn’t repeat itself. Over the past two weeks, 156 victims in Lansing gave us a detailed blueprint of their traumas and triumphs. We need to examine its every crevice.

These women have, collectively, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Now its time to follow their path.

“We were ultimately strong enough to take you down,” Kaylee Lorincz said to Nassar. “Not one by one, but by an army of survivors.”

 

Katelyn Marmon contributed to this report.