LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A "master manipulator" said survivors who sat in court Wednesday as Larry Nassar pleaded guilty and apologized to those women he sexually assaulted. And survivors tell us they aren't buying his apology.
News 10 talked with 3 of them, Lindsey Lemke, Rachel Denhollander and Kaylee Lorincz, who were in court when Nassar made his statement. They told us it lacked sincerity and didn't mean much to them.
"To me, it doesn't mean anything," said survivor Lindsey Lemke.
"I don't believe there was anything sincere in what Larry said," said survivor Rachel Denhollander.
"I think my jaw almost hit the floor," said survivor Kaylee Lorincz.
These are just three opinions from three survivors, out of more than 150 women who have accused Nassar of sexual assault. It was an apology many say they've waited for but still didn't get today. "For him to say I pray on the rosary, it's disgusting because he just thinks that saying sorry and not even turning towards us and not even being able to say it at our faces is acceptable, and it's not," said Lemke. Lorincz said, "I think him telling us to move on and that we should heal, there's a healing process but I don't think he was 100% sincere." Denhollander adds in, that Nassar's apology wasn't about the women and girls he assaulted but instead on his "desire to refocus the attention on the good he believed he did today."
Michigan State University said Nassar's guilty plea will be a step forward for victims, but survivors told us they haven't gotten over the support MSU showed him when he was first accused of sex assault years ago. Survivors said MSU is just one of the faces that failed to protect them and in the process "silenced" dozens of victims. Survivors and lawyers told us reports of sexual assault were brought to MSU officials and nothing was done about them. Denhollander told us her message she has for MSU, "your words of care and concern ring hollow, and I do not want to hear them any longer until they are backed up by your actions."
Survivor Rachel Denhollander filed a police report and came out publicly about her assault nearly 15 months ago. She said when the reports came to surface the dean and head of the College of Osteopathy, he sent emails to Nassar that read. "good luck, I'm on your side." When her video testimony came out, she said the dean sent an email to the MSU Provost making a joke out of it. She said the email read "cherry on the cake of my day." It broke her heart to know that that is how MSU treated her sexual assault complaint, Denhollander said. She tells us that she is happy Nassar pleaded guilty. However, she is still grieved that she has not yet heard the truth of MSU and other organizations accused of covering up sexual complaints involving Nassar. She said "Officials who kept Larry in power for decades, officials who ignored repeated reports of sexual assault, officials who brushed victims off as unable to tell the difference between a medical exam and sexual violation." And in light of not having/knowing all the truth yet, Denhollander said: "today I am grateful for the army of women that stopped a pedophile." She described that the culture of enabling is extremely vital to why pedophiles flourish. Denhollander was not the only one to speak of this culture. John Manly, a California lawyer who represents many of these women and girls, said: "clearly Michigan State has a culture of secrecy." Denhollander adds "you don't get someone like Larry Nassar, you don't get a pedophile who was able to abuse without a culture surrounding him putting him in that place," said Denhollander. A place, one survivor's mom said, Nassar shouldn't have been in. "Had any one of these organizations done their job Kaylee would've never met Nassar let alone would've been sexually assaulted by him," said Ms. Lorincz, mother of Kaylee Lorincz.
Survivor Kaylee Lorincz had previously gone by Jane Doe "E", a mask she said she no longer wanted to wear. She told us, "this didn't happen to Jane Doe this happened to me, Kaylee Lorincz." Nassar sexually assaulted Lorincz shortly after her 13th birthday, and that destroyed her dream of being a collegiate gymnast at Michigan State University. She said she told her parents a little bit about the situation the day of the assault, and it was then left as a "dark secret". She explained that she "didn't put the pieces together" until September 2016 when she went to file a police report with the Michigan State University Police Department. When she told her story aloud to officers she said she learned the impact the sexual assault had on her. She told us her interest in MSU was lost at that moment. Last year when she was a senior in high school and it came down to choosing a school her first choice had always been MSU. "I've wanted to go there since I was a little girl from watching Big Ten gymnastics and from hearing people say how great it is to go there but how could I go to a university that betrayed me, I would always be reminded of being sexually assaulted on their campus," said Lorincz. She now goes to Albion College in Albion, MI where she told us she is majoring in criminal justice to be a voice for those who are afraid to or can't speak up. She said her decision was inspired by her assault.
Survivor Lindsey Lemke said she first heard of the sexual accusations against Nassar after her teammates, coaches, trainers and herself were pulled into a separate room by someone in the Michigan State Universty Athletic Department and told them Nassar was under "some sort of investigation. They were all advised to not comment to press or police who might be looking for information. She said she learned the magnitude of these allegations went farther than just her and her friends, dating back to 1998, according to reports that were being filed. As an active member of the MSU gymnastics team, Lemke said she went to her coach Kathie Klages to describe to her what happened to her with Nassar. Lemke said that Klages told her "to do my research so that I understand what was happening to me." Lemke said Klages' justification for that advice was so that false information wasn't said to police that would hurt Nassar. Lemke told us that she could no longer trust Klages after she defended the person that "changed her life forever." Lemke said she was also a club gymnast where her coaches used fear to motivate the athletes. She knew there would be consequences if she couldn't practice because of pain. She tells us that she trusted Nassar because he was supposed to be able to relieve that pain. "You would go to Larry and he would be a savior to you because you would that he would make you feel better so that the next day at practice you wouldn't get yelled at and that's what you trusted him for," she said.
Those survivors are suing Nassar, Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars in federal court. Earlier this month a mediator told the judge there has been progress towards a settlement with MSU. The talks have been extended until December 6, 2017.
Michigan State University responded to the plaintiffs in the civil suit. Jason Cody, the MSU spokesman, put out a statement denying there was a coverup and said "the university unequivocally denies this accusation. Moreover, MSU has consistently promised if it were to find any employee knew of and acquiesced in Nassar's misconduct, the university would immediately report it to law enforcement".
The statement goes on to say "Michigan State University continues to be shocked and appalled by Larry Nassar's now-admitted criminal conduct, and suggestion that the university covered up this conduct is simply false."
As for what's next for Nassar, his criminal case in Eaton County is covered by the same plea agreement. He'll plead guilty there next Wednesday, November 29, 2017.
His sentencing in Ingham County is scheduled for January 12th, 2018. More than 100 of Nassar's victims or their parents have been invited to provide impact statements at that sentencing. In addition, Nassar will be sentenced on federal child pornography charges on December 7, 2017.