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Judge: Victims of sports doc are ‘sister survivor warriors’

Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. — The judge overseeing the sentencing of disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar said Monday that more than 120 girls and women who had given statements so far at the five-day hearing were "sister survivor warriors."

"I want you to know that your face and the face of all of the sister survivor warriors — the whole army of you — I’ve heard your words," Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said after a woman spoke in her courtroom. "Your sister survivors and you are going through incomprehensible lengths, emotions and soul-searching to put your words together, to publicly stop (the) defendant, to publicly stop predators, to make people listen."

Nassar, 54, has admitted molesting athletes during medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics on Monday announced the resignations of three key leaders — chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley — days after former gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber said in court that Nassar had sexually assaulted them. CEO Steve Penny was forced out last year.

Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes. Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in the molestation case. The maximum term could be much higher.

"Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know?" asked Clasina Syrboby, as she fought back tears while speaking for more than 20 minutes Monday. "You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position — the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you, Larry. Shame on you.

She and other victims also continued their criticism of Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing enough to stop Nassar when initial complaints were made years ago.

Emma Ann Miller, 15, said the school was still billing her mother for medical appointments in which Nassar molested her as recently as August 2016 — a week before he was fired.

In her statement to the court, Miller directly addressed Michigan State.

"I, like all those that have spoken, didn’t choose this circumstance to have the right to be standing in front of this podium today," she said. "Nassar made that choice for us — your 20-year child-molesting employee."

A Title IX probe conducted by the university cleared Nassar of sexual assault allegations in 2014. At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the investigation ended, according to a university police report that was provided to the FBI for review by the U.S. attorney.

The school let Nassar see patients for 16 months while the campus police also conducted a criminal investigation into the allegations. The local prosecutor declined to charge Nassar.

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