Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go on the record accusing Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual misconduct, closed out an exhaustive, week-long trial against the former USA Gymnastics physician with a 36-minute statement Wednesday that earned a standing ovation from the gallery.
“What was done to myself and these other women and little girls, and the fact that our sexual violation was enjoyed by Larry, matters,” Denhollander said while giving a victim impact statement before Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. “It demands justice. And the sentence you impose today will send a message about how much these precious women and children are worth.”
Aquilina sentenced Nassar to between 40 and 175 years in prison. “I just signed your death warrant,” she told Nassar after handing down the decision.
In September 2016, the Indianapolis Star published a story about sexual misconduct allegations against Nassar, who was a faculty member at Michigan State University in addition to his role with USA Gymnastics. Two former gymnasts were mentioned in the report. Only one, Denhollander, went on the record.
Denhollander, now 33, first saw Nassar for a back injury sustained as a 15-year-old club-level gymnast. She stopped competing shortly thereafter, and later became a coach and lawyer. During her victim statement, Denhollander said Nassar “penetrated,” “groped” and “fondled” her during what were disguised as treatments.
“You made this happen,” Aquilina told Denhollander, according to the New York Times. “You are the bravest person I’ve ever had in my courtroom.”