KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly 100 women are set to make victim impact statements in court this week as former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar is sentenced for sexual abuse.
The sentencing will take place in an Ingham County circuit courtroom and is scheduled to last three days. How long the hearing actually takes will depend on how much time victims spend making their statements, since the judge is not setting time limits for those who speak.
Nassar is accused of assaulting dozens of women and girls during his time as a doctor for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics.
Among those testifying is Rachael Denhollander, a Kalamazoo native who now lives in Kentucky. She says Nassar assaulted her as a teenager. She traveled back to Michigan on icy roads so she could make her statement to the court.
“To finally see justice coming for him is very healing,” Denhollander told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. She says it’s important that all the victims speak individually if they want to.
“These aren’t just anonymous people. These were real little girls – some of them as young as six years old. These are real young women who are suffering devastating consequences now,” she said.
Denhollander was the first victim to push for criminal charges against Nassar. She’ll be one of the last to speak before the judge imposes a sentence on him.
“Larry is what he is and it’s wicked and it’s evil and he needed to be stopped,” she said.
But Nassar’s actions are only part of what some of his victims are fighting for. They’ve also filed a lawsuit against Michigan State University alleging that the college knew of Nassar’s behavior and did nothing to stop it.
Friday, MSU attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the college. The school told the judge that Nassar’s victims didn’t report the questionable activity to the “appropriate” authorities at the university, so the school should not be held responsible.
The university also claimed that the lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations, among other arguments made in a written motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Denhollander scoffed at the motion.
“The level that they are willing to fight against any responsibility. I don’t think it can be overstated,” she said. “They have said the same things about me and these other victims that Larry Nassar’s defense attorney said about me in court. And when you find yourself saying the same things as a pedophile’s defense attorney, it’s pretty obvious which side you’ve picked.”
MSU denounced Nassar’s actions in the motion but said the school has no culpability.
“My hope is that MSU will do what I expect my 2-year-old to do,” Denhollander said. “When one of my children harms someone else, I expect them to take responsibility for what they did.”
The sentencing hearing begins Tuesday. No timeline is set for when a judge will rule on the motion to dismiss the lawsuit against MSU.