Victim confronts Nassar: ‘Why should we forgive you?’

Kim Kozlowski, and Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Lansing — After Larry Nassar repeatedly assaulted Arianna Guerrero, she stopped showing up for class.

“It still hurts every time, knowing what happened,” Arianna Guerrero said. “Why did you do this? Why did you do this for so long? Why should we forgive you? Why should God forgive you?”

Instead, Guerrero, 16, said she enrolled in online courses because she’s afraid of sitting too close to anybody at school and having a panic attack.

The young gymnast also testified Thursday in Ingham County Circuit Court that she walks into her Lansing-area gymnastics club five days a week; the abuse happened in the back room.

“It still hurts every time, knowing what happened,” Guerrero said during a sentencing hearing for the former Michigan State University doctor. “Why did you do this? Why did you do this for so long? Why should we forgive you? Why should God forgive you?”

Guerrero was among 19 young women who lashed out at Nassar, who was in court again Thursday for a third day of victim testimonials.

Since Tuesday, 69 women and a few parents have given accounts of how they were duped into believing Nassar’s sexual abuse was a legitimate medical treatment. All confronted Nassar and asked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to lock him up for as long as possible.

Still to come are another 36, for a total of 105 and possibly more, after Aquilina said she wanted every victim who wanted to speak to have the opportunity to aid in their healing. Sentencing was scheduled for Friday, but may not happen until next week.

Melody Posthuma, now an adult, was 13 when she was first abused by Nassar. A dancer and gymnast, she said she was vulnerable because she never knew the danger of sexual abuse. She said Nassar hugged her when she came into the room, joked and built a relationship with her.

She thought he cared about her until she saw a story in the Indianapolis Star in 2016 exposing his medical care as sexual abuse.

“He had me so fooled I saw the story, read the article, laughed and defended him,” Posthuma said. “Then I read the article and realized I was one of the women that were written about that would be messed up forever. Imagine your deepest, darkest pain being broadcasted on international media for over a year.”

Posthuma said she wanted to talk about a deeper issue.

“Knowledge is power and even when people have knowledge at hand, they ignore it,” she said. “I was never notified of his license restriction and still had treatment from him. Had I known, everyone after 2014 could have been saved,” she said as her husband cried beside her.

Earlier in the day, a few Olympic champions treated by Nassar spoke.

Jamie Dantzscher, a member of the Team USA Gymnastics who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, recalled an instance when Nassar massaged her and stretched her while he was on top of her during a treatment session. Then he inserted his fingers into her vagina and anus without a glove or lubricant.

When she came forward in August 2016, she said she was attacked on social media and USAG tried to discredit her with statements supporting Nassar.

“People didn’t believe me, even people who I thought were my friends. ... They called me a liar, a whore. ... Instead of backing down, I continued to speak my truth,” Dantzscher said.

“You knew I was powerless,” she told Nassar. “You pretended to be my friend. How dare you ask for our forgiveness.”

After Dantzscher spoke, a prosecutor read a statement from McKayla Maroney, a retired U.S. gold-medal gymnast who dreamed as a little girl of being an Olympian.

“I did it. I got there, but not without a price,” Maroney wrote.

She wrote that the scariest night of her life was in 2011, when she was on a trip to Tokyo at age 15. Maroney wrote that Nassar gave her a sleeping pill and she awoke to find him giving her a “treatment” in his hotel room in Tokyo.

“I thought I was going to die that night,” Maroney wrote. “Larry Nassar deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. Not only because of what he did to me, my teammates and so many other little girls — he needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child.”

Nassar pleaded guilty in November to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving seven victims between 1998 and 2015. The plea included two counts against a victim under the age of 13 and five counts against victims between the ages of 13 and 15.

For months before entering his plea, Nassar had denied the charges, which emerged after former Kalamazoo resident and gymnast Rachael Denhollander came forward in August 2016. Nassar was arrested three months later and a tip line was set up, resulting in 125 complaints to MSU police.

Prosecutors have requested a sentence of 40 to 125 years. Nassar, 54, has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges.

During Wednesday afternoon’s testimony, MSU President Lou Anna Simon sat in the back of the courtroom and listened to some of the victims’ stories. MSU has faced criticism from victims and others who believe the school could have done more to stop Nassar from sexually assaulting young women during his more than 20 years at the university.

A Detroit News investigation published Thursday found that reports of sexual misconduct by Nassar reached at least 14 MSU representatives, including a Title IX complaint and police report filed with the school in 2014.

Simon said Wednesday she was informed that the complaint had been made against an unnamed physician but did not receive a copy of the investigation report.