LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Judge Aquilina wrapped up the victim statements by saying to Rachael Denhollander, "you are a 5-star General." As Rachael returned to her seat, the room stood up and applauded her. The judge said, "your words have grace and hope."
The first woman to speak out against Larry Nassar was the last survivor to speak in court. Rachael Denhollander was abused by Nassar at age 15. She was abused and then asked how it made her feel by Nassar. She said she was assaulted for nearly one year, often with her mother in the room. She described his behavior as deliberate, premeditated abuse. Rachael told the judge that her sentence on Wednesday will send a message across the country. "How much is a little girl worth?" She asked, "how much is a young woman worth?"
Rachael addressed Michigan State University directly, pointing out names and incidents that went unreported and questions unanswered. She asked over and over to MSU about girls that tried to report their abuse to their coach or an advisor and were told to be silent, "was that the right way or the wrong way to handle a report of sexual assault on MSU's campus?"
The second speaker was Kaylee Lorincz, previously known as Victim E. She was speaking publicly for the first time in court Wednesday. She was abused at 11 years old and told that she should quit gymnastics "for an injury I never had." When she first looked at Nassar in the courtroom, she said, "I feel nauseous, like the feeling of being assaulted by you all over again." She said when she first saw Nassar as a doctor she was so excited that it was like seeing a celebrity. But after her third appointment, Nassar asked her to change into "orange baggy shorts" and then preceded to assault her. She has led a life of fear and depression and pain since the assault. She has seen a physical therapist who told her that she was doing the same procedure that Nassar did...but Kaylee said, that's not what Larry did to me, knowing that something was wrong.
Kaylee also said that Nassar's defense attorney gave out her anonymous identity, forcing her to come forward before she was ready.
She also asked Nassar straight out who knew, and when and asked him to speak about that when this comes to an end.
Court started late Wednesday morning due to technical difficulties.
At about 9:30 a.m. the first survivor gave her impact statement. Sterling Reithman spoke to the court about her trauma that "haunts her every day." She first met Nassar at age 10 but was not abused by him until she was 20. She said, "I never once considered I'd be sexually abused with acupuncture needles in my spine." Sterling suffers from back pain, still to this day. She said that Nassar shattered her confidence and crushed her self-truth. But added, "I can not blame myself for trusting my physician."
Sterling also pointed fingers at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. She said she needs accountability. She said, "I would have never walked through these doors, I certainly wouldn't be standing here today."
Sterling said that one sexual assault is one sexual assault too many. She added, "this army doesn't have a white flag to wave. We are here to show you MSU, USA Gymnastics and the world that there is no white flag to wave when it comes to protecting young girls."
Over 150 survivors have read impact statements during the Nassar sentencing hearing.
Nassar's plea deal calls for him to be sentenced to a minimum of 25-years in prison, but he could end up being sentenced to life in prison.
And at 9:30 Wednesday morning, a pretrial conference was also held in Grand Rapids for the federal civil case against Nassar, MSU, Twistars, and USA Gymnastics. Officials say the conference will set the roadmap for the case, such as dates for discovery and disclosure and possibly a trial date.
News 10's Clayton Cummins was tweeting live from the courtroom. (see his tweets below or follow him at: https://twitter.com/ClaytonCummins)
News 10 will have full coverage in our newscasts at 4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m. on WILX.