Gold medalist to Nassar: I won’t live as a victim any longer

(Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber described herself in court Friday as one of 140 survivors of sexual assault by Larry Nassar, as Michigan State University called on the state’s attorney general to investigate the school’s handling of complaints against the disgraced former sports doctor.

Wieber is the fourth member of the “Fierce Five” — the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team — to publicly tell of abuse by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment.

“Even though I’m a victim, I do not and will not live my life as one,” Wieber said during the fourth day of Nassar’s sentencing hearing. “I’m an Olympian despite being abused. I worked hard and managed to achieve my goal. But I want everyone — especially the media — to know that despite my athletic achievements I am one of over 140 women and survivors whose story is important.”

The 54-year-old Nassar faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls at Michigan State University and his home. He also was a team doctor at the Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He already has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes.

As victims gave impact statements for a fourth consecutive day Friday, Michigan State’s board of trustees asked state Attorney General Bill Schuette to review its handling of Nassar, amid growing calls for Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon to resign or be fired. Schuette, who is running for governor, said he would provide “a full and complete review, report and recommendation,” but only after Nassar’s victims have had “their day in court.”

The university fired Nassar in 2016, as allegations against him stretching back years came to light.

The board, which has defended Simon, said in a letter to Schuette that “questions grew louder this week with the victim impact statements. … After watching many of these heartbreaking statements and reading accounts about them, we have concluded that only a review by your office can resolve the questions in a way that the victims, their families, and the public will deem satisfactory and that will help all those affected by Nassar’s horrible crimes to heal.”

The criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in The Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches. Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse.

Many of the accusers have sued Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee. John Manly, an attorney for more than 100 accusers, has said the three institutions “miserably failed children,” and he has likened what happened with Nassar to the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.

Michigan State on Friday cited a previous letter to Schuette from its lawyer, former U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, saying “the evidence will show that no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016.”

The board added: “It has become clear to us, then, that the questions that are still being asked about the Nassar situation will not be satisfactorily resolved until they are answered as part of a separate review.”

Women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages resigned last year after she was suspended for defending Nassar for years. Others remain on the job.

 

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