'I will finally be free': Day 3 of Nassar's sentencing brings 17 more survivors
Lindsey Lemke stepped up to the podium in a courtroom brimming with TV cameras, reporters, victims and onlookers. She gripped the podium and looked at ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
“Today, I get to see what my life would be like without you for the first time in 12 years," she said. "Today, I will finally be free.”
Lemke, a hospitality business senior at MSU, is among more than 140 women and girls who were sexually abused by Nassar.
She is one of 105 women who will speak during Nassar's sentencing for seven charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct and is just one of 17 women to speak on the third day of his sentencing on Thursday.
The court originally set aside four full days for the sentencing — a length of time provided so all victims who would like to speak to Nassar have the chance to do so — but Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said it's likely the sentencing will continue next week.
Following the completion of the victim impact statements, Nassar will be sentenced for seven charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct, to which he pleaded guilty in Ingham County court in November 2017.
Nassar's sentencing began Tuesday, when 29 women and girls spoke in court, sharing stories and thoughts similar to Lemke's. It continued Wednesday with an additional 21 victim impact statements, leading into Thursday's proceedings.
Many of the women and girls who spoke Thursday accused MSU of not listening to allegations and ignoring red flags. Many criticized MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon directly.
"To Lou Anna Simon: I don't even know how you are still in the position that you are in. I don't know how you can still call yourself a president, because I don't anymore," Lemke said. "You are no president of mine, as a student and former athlete of Michigan State University. Guess what? You're a coward, too."
During the proceedings, news broke that several state legislators called for the removal of Simon as MSU's president, including Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, Michigan House Minority Leader Sam Singh and Sen. Curtis Hertel.
Their voices join others calling for her removal. The State News released an editorial Thursday asking for the same thing and for enablers of Nassar's abuse to resign as well.
MSU Trustee Melanie Foster attended Wednesday and Thursday's proceedings. On Thursday, she declined to comment on why she was there and said the day was about the victims. Simon attended the second half of Wednesday's proceedings, but was not in the courtroom Thursday.
News also broke that USA Gymnastics has terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch, a U.S. National Team training center in Huntsville, Texas. Some victims of Nassar's abuse have said they were abused there.
Nassar previously pleaded guilty to a total of 10 charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct — seven in Ingham County and three in Eaton County.
Aquilina will sentence Nassar following the victim impact statements, which are estimated to be completed either Friday or Monday. His sentence range is 25-40 years per charge.
His sentencing for the Eaton County charges, also 25-40 years per charge, is scheduled for Jan. 31.
He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for three charges related to child pornography. Nassar is a defendant in nine lawsuits, all of which list MSU, its Board of Trustees and USA Gymnastics as defendants.