LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A 15-year-old girl spoke some of the boldest words on the fifth day of sentencing for Larry Nassar.
Nassar, who was a doctor for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, is being sentenced on multiple felonies connected to his guilty plea for sexually assaulting girls and women under the guise of medical treatment. The abuse is alleged to have happened over the course of some 20 years.
It’s likely no one in the courtroom expected the gravity in the remarks that were delivered by 15-year-old Emma Ann Miller.
The girl said she was sexually abused repeatedly while undergoing treatment from Nassar. She said the most recent visit with him was in August 2016, days before he was fired by MSU as allegations of assault became public. She said she suspects that she may have been the last teen girl he abused.
“Larry Nassar, I hate you,” Emma said as she looked directly at him in the courtroom. “I’m not afraid of him. My sister survivors are not afraid of him.”
The teen read from a prepared statement, pausing at times to be comforted by her mother who stood next to her. An attorney representing her was also present.
“At 15, I shouldn’t know the inside of a courtroom,” Emma said.
She implored Nassar to do something that might help the victims when he is given the opportunity to address the court, asking him to speak about when officials with the organizations he worked for could have interfered with the continuing abuse.
“Tell us how and when there were opportunities to stop you,” Emma said. “In one of your last public acts, actually help someone. … Please, Larry, help my sisters.”
Many of Nassar’s victims have filed civil lawsuits alleging that officials at MSU and USA Gymnastics are among those who knew Nassar was abusing girls and women and failed to stop him.
>>App users: Hear from survivors who spoke Monday morning here.
After she spoke, Emma told 24 Hour News 8 she was relieved to have addressed Nassar face to face.
“Feels really good to finally face him,” she said. “I hope that if there’s any other women out there…that want to come out, it will show them that they can and that they shouldn’t be afraid.”
Shortly after Emma’s testimony, word began to spread about something outside the confines of the courthouse: USA Gymnastics had announced that three top members on its board of directors — chair Paul Parilla, vice chair Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley — resigned effective immediately.
USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry stated the resignations “will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change.”
Victims of Nassar said it proved the power in their statements.
“While it certainly would have been nice to see these actions a long time ago … I think they’re recognizing that we are in the midst and it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Sterling Riethman, a victim from Kalamazoo, said. “I think its further recognition that our voices have meaning.”
Grand Rapids attorney Stephen Drew is representing Riethman and a significant portion of the other victims who have come forward.
“They’re trying to look good. You should act right, act good when it’s time to do the right thing. The time to do the right thing was a long time ago,” Drew said. “They didn’t do it then. They’re doing it now. It’s a little late.”
WOOD TV8’s Lansing-based sister station WLNS confirmed later Monday that John Geddert, the owner of Lansing-area Twistars gymnastics club, was suspended by USA Gymnastics. Olympic medalist Jordyn Wieber, a Michigan native, and other gymnasts who have stated Nassar abused them trained at Twistars. The gymnastics club is named in the civil lawsuit linked to the abuse.
>>App users: Listen to Monday afternoon’s statements here.
Prosecutors told the court Monday that more victims had come forth wanting to speak, bringing the total number of expected victim impact statements to 144. Prior to the start of the hearing, fewer than 100 were slated to speak. The judge has committed to hearing from all of the victims who care to address the court.
As court broke for the day, about 125 women had made statements during the hearing. About 20 more are expected to be heard in the days ahead, with a sentence ruling expected midweek.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.