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Day 1 of Nassar's sentencing in Eaton County begins

January 31, 2018
Larry Nassar listens to a victim impact statement during the first day of his sentencing on Jan. 31, 2018, in the Eaton County courtroom. Nassar faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County.
Larry Nassar listens to a victim impact statement during the first day of his sentencing on Jan. 31, 2018, in the Eaton County courtroom. Nassar faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar began day one of his Eaton County sentencing for three counts of criminal sexual conduct Wednesday morning. 

Nassar pleaded guilty in November 2017 for the counts. According to the plea agreement, two of the girls were between the age of 13 and 15 and the third was under the age of 13. 

Thirty statements were made in court, of which 29 were given by victims and one was made by the mother of a victim. Pictures of the women and girls at the time of Nassar's abuse were displayed in the courtroom. Roughly half of the victim impact statements were read by assistant prosecutors Angela Povilaitis and Robyn Liddell.

"My peace of mind is forever taken away," Olivia Cowan’s statement said. "If you can't trust a world-renowned doctor, then who can you trust?"

Jessica Thomashaw was the first woman to speak. She said Nassar's legal team laughed at her testimony in Ingham County, which defense attorney Matt Newburg objected to. Eaton County Court Judge Janice Cunningham asked her to focus on her victim experience rather than the legal proceedings. 

She said she remembers talking to Nassar about how she wanted to become a sports medicine doctor just like him before he began to assault her. 

"I try not to think about it anymore," Thomashow said. "My dreams of being a sports medicine doctor died that day."

Bailey Lorencen first met the former doctor in fourth grade after two days of training at Twistars Gymnastics Club. The sexual abuse did not begin until a couple of years later. Lorencen said when she came forward as a victim of sexual abuse publicly, many people questioned why she did not come forward sooner.

"How dare you to have the audacity to ask anyone such a shaming question," Lorencen said. "No one ever has the right to ask a victim of sexual abuse why they didn't say anything."

A victim who wished to remain anonymous discussed the abuse from John Geddert, American gymnastics coach and founder of Twistars Gymnastics Club, discussing how he verbally abused her teammates, threw water bottles at them and dropped them from the high bar.

The second victim who spoke, Annie LaBrie, also mentioned how Geddert's gym practiced a lack of respect for women. 

"He (Nassar) was prolific because surrounding authorities allowed him to be," LaBrie said. "Because the gymnastics world allowed him to be. Because still, women are not perceived to be credible."   

Another victim, Chelsea DeLamielleure, who was a softball player at Central Michigan University when she was abused by Nassar, felt like she had to deal with the abuse her entire college athletic career in order to be able to continue. 

“You took advantage of female athlete’s passions," DeLamielleure's statement said. “You were never a doctor. You are a pedophile." 

Another victim, who was identified as Brie, said she cannot begin to explain how she feels when hearing not only Nassar's name but "Michigan State University" as well. She also felt Nassar used her love for the sport against her. 

“You are the physical representation of the dark and sinister part of our culture where women aren’t taken seriously," her statement said. 

MSU student Katherine Ebert had two appointments with Nassar and was assaulted at the second one. She was taken off the gymnastics team after struggling with her mental health as a result of her encounter with Nassar and is disappointed in how her university handles sexual assault. 

“Talk is cheap, but my tuition isn’t," Ebert said. "And I’m tired of your apologies." 

Erin Blayer, who was accompanied by her parents, grew up admiring MSU, but now she also believes its reputation is tarnished. She said that when the allegations came out, students at her high school would yell out “Free Larry Nassar," which triggered panic and anxiety attacks and caused her to miss school. 

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“There is only one god and that sure isn’t you,” Blayer said in reference to Nassar. “Did you know that one day you would be knocked off your pedestal?”

She said if the right steps had been taken by the administration, she wouldn't of had to endure abuse from Nassar and he would have been in prison before she was born. 

“I was speechless and helpless," Blayer said. "And now you are.”

The second day of Nassar's sentencing will continue at 8:30 a.m on Friday at the Eaton County Circuit Courthouse.  

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