Victim to Nassar: Explain yourself

Kim Kozlowski

Lansing — Taylor Livingston will never be able to go back and change what Larry Nassar did to her, a secret she kept from her dad.

The former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics physician first assaulted Livingston when she was 13, with her dad in the room. At the time, she was confused, scared and uncomfortable by what had happened. But she didn’t tell her dad, who was terminally ill.

Livington’s dad — Craig Livington — died nearly a year ago on Jan. 30, not knowing that Nassar had assaulted her. Worse yet, she said, he died thinking people were tainting Nassar’s career, but Livington didn’t tell him the truth.

“He would have hated himself so much,” said Livingston of Hartland. “So instead, I kept it to myself.

“And here I am, almost a year after my dad’s passing. I should be grieving the death of my dad, the death of my best friend in the entire world, the death of my hero. But instead, I am feeling guilty that I lied to my dad for so long. That I kept a secret from him.”

Livingston was among the girls and women abused by Nassar who spoke Monday as part of his ongoing sentencing hearings. So far, nearly 124 have given statements about how his sexual abuse upended their lives. At least 20 more are expected to make statements before the end of the week. Prosecutors are asking for 40-125 years in prison.

Sentencing was supposed to occur last Friday, but women who were sexually assaulted by Nassar continue to come forward, said Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis. More than two dozen reached out over the weekend with requests to speak in court. Sentencing is not expected now until later this week.

“They are feeling empowered by the others who have spoken,” Povilaitis said. “They want to hear their voice.”

Among those who recently came forward is Marta Stern, 32, of Grand Rapids. She said she got the courage to speak from hearing the other young women share the same story as hers. She is only beginning to process everything but is glad she came forward.

“I feel a sense of relief,” Stern said. “But I am glad I came forward.”

When she spoke Monday, Stern remembered how Nassar assaulted her on and off between 1999-2005 until she was “sore and raw.”

The former gymnast said she grew up in a culture where she learned that if she didn’t have pain, she didn’t gain, so she didn’t come forward. Sometimes, she questioned herself before she realized that he was abusing her.

“I must forgive you,” Stern said. “I will no longer carry the weight that I have carried for so long. The burden is now on you.”

Others who spoke included Bailey Lorencen.

“I don’t want you to forget each and every one of us that came here to tell our stories about what you’ve done to us,” she said.

Nassar, 54, already has been sentenced to 60 years on federal child pornography charges. He’s also pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the Ingham County court.

Civil lawsuits continue to be filed by women and are now nearing 200 against Nassar, MSU and others, said Okemos-based attorneys Mick Grewal and David Mittleman.

The women’s testimonies come as a Detroit News investigation found that reports of sexual misconduct by Nassar reached at least 14 university representatives in the two decades before his arrest.

Among those notified was MSU President Lou Anna Simon, who was informed in 2014 that a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician.

Despite growing calls for Simon’s resignation, the MSU Board of Trustees affirmed its support for her Friday, denying any “cover-up” and asking state Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate the school’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints against the former sports doctor.

On Saturday, one trustee, Mitch Lyons, changed his position and asked Simon to step down.