Survivors take the stand, call for Lou Anna Simon resignation on day four of Larry Nassar trial

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 12:14am

Larry Nassar, Former Michigan State University doctor, listens to survivor testimonies during his hearing in the Ingham County courthouse Friday.

Larry Nassar, Former Michigan State University doctor, listens to survivor testimonies during his hearing in the Ingham County courthouse Friday. Buy this photo
Claire Meingast/Daily

 

Twenty-one more survivors rose to stand in the Ingham County courthouse to share their experience of sexual abuse at the hands of former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar on Friday.

Nearly every seat in the courtroom was filled by survivors and their families, and at the conclusion of each impact statement the room erupted in applause.

Nassar, the former doctor for USA Gymnastics and MSU, has pled guilty to seven counts of first degree sexual misconduct in Ingham County and three counts in Eaton county, including sexual assault and abuse of girls as young as six years old.

Survivors testifying Friday morning recounted years of abuse along with the life-long mental and physical suffering which followed.

Trenea Gonzcar identified herself as one of “the originals” who has known Nassar for 31 of 37 years and stood by his side through most of it.

“I remember thinking that if no one could fix me, you could,” Gonzcar said.

It was not until recently Gonzcar identified herself as a survivor. Calculating the amount of times she saw Nassar for “treatment” through her life, she estimates she was assaulted nearly 800 times.

During her statement, Nassar broke down shaking in tears as Gonzcar told him she was done defending him, choosing to stand alongside the other survivors.

“I choose them (the survivors) Larry,” Gonzcar said. “I choose to love them and protect. I choose to stop caring for you and supporting you.”

The hearing began Tuesday morning and was expected to conclude with sentencing Friday afternoon, but Judge Rosemarie Aquilina will allow time for all 120 survivors to speak. 88 women were originally set to speak in court — as the trial resumes on its fifth day Monday morning, the number of survivors has risen to 120.

After watching the clips of the trials on TV, Olympian Aly Raisman said she decided to come to Ingham County to deliver her statement. She was joined by former teammate and fellow Olympian Jordyn Wieber. Raisman, like many other survivors, turned to face Nassar directly.

“The tables have turned Larry. We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere,” Raisman said.

Raisman was molested by Nassar at the 2012 London Olympics games — treatment with him as official medical doctor was mandatory. Raisman noted when Olympians began to speak out in 2016, the United States Olympic Committee decided it would not launch an investigation. Raiman received no response from the USOC when she came forward. She asserted the group was quick to capitalize on her success, but now is nowhere to be seen.

“It’s easy to put out statements talking about how athlete care is the top priority, but they have been saying that for years, and all the while this nightmare was happening,” Raisman said.

Allegations against Nassar first surfaced publicly in September 2016, but survivors testified Friday they notified officials at both MSU and USA Gymnastics years beforehand, dating all the way back to 1992.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon was first notified of a Title IX investigation into a sports medicine doctor at the university in 2014, she told reporters in a statement Wednesday.

Thursday, students and state legislators called for Simons’ resignation. Friday, in a closed session, the MSU Board of Trustees decided to put their full support behind Simon.

That afternoon, survivors fired back.

Survivor Alexis Alvarado addressed Simon directly in her impact statement.

Lou Anna Simon: Why are you not here,” Alvarado said. “I do not want to hear another bullshit excuse from you”

Larissa Boyce, the final survivor to speak for the day, closed on a similar note.

“I asked Lou Anna Simon to be here for my statement,” Boyce said. “She told me she could not fit it in her schedule.”