Larry Nassar survivor: mother billed for sessions at which I was abused

Tom Lutz
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Larry Nassar is facing a long prison sentence. </span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters</span>
Larry Nassar is facing a long prison sentence. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

The sentence hearing for the former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar has heard one survivor’s mother is still being billed for sessions at which she was sexually abused.

Nassar spent nearly 30 years with the USA Gymnastics program as well as treating athletes at Michigan State University. He faces up to 125 years in jail after admitting sexually abusing women and girls in his care.

Many statements from victims and their attorneys at the hearing, which has stretched into a second week, have centered on the fact that USA Gymnastics and Michigan State allegedly enabled Nassar’s abuse for as long as two decades. On Monday, 15-year-old Emma Ann Miller said she was treated by Nassar as recently as August 2016, meaning she is “possibly the last child he will ever assault”. She added that Michigan State had continued to send bills to her mother. “My mom is still getting billed for appointments where I was sexually assaulted,” she said in her statement.

More than 100 women have come forward to say Nassar abused them. The survivors include one woman who was six when she says Nassar molested her, as well as Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.

“Adult after adult protected you,” Raisman, who won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, said when she appeared in court last week. “How do you sleep at night? You are the person they had ‘take the lead on athlete care’. I cringe to think your influence remains in the policies they [USA Gymnastics] claim will make athletes safe.

“I will not rest until every last trace of the influence you had on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer it is.”

Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee, have all been named as co-defendants in civil suits that appear headed to trial, with allegations that officials knew about Nassar’s abuse. On Thursday, USA Gymnastics announced it had terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch, which has served as the national team training center since 2001 and where many of Nassar’s crimes were alleged to have taken place.

“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December,” Kerry Perry, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, said. “Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

“We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the US women’s national team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts.”

Nassar was the target of derision last week when he told the judge that it was too difficult for him to listen to the victim impact statements. “You may find it harsh that you are here listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands,” said Aquilina.

Nassar had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison in a separate case, regarding child abuse images.

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