Mom asks Nassar victim viewers to stop shaming parents for sexual abuse
LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) - The mom of a victim of Larry Nassar has a message to anyone following the victim impact statements: please stop blaming parents for what he did to little girls.
There are a total of 158 women who have bravely come forward to confront the man they say sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical practice. Through the past six days of victim testimony, comments online have been in support of the women but also questioning why parents hadn't done anything to stop the abuse.
Anne Swinehart has an answer.
"Quit shaming and blaming the parents. Trust me, you would not have known and you wouldn't have done anything differently. So stop," she said.
Sentencing hits sixth day for doctor who sexually abused gymnasts
Anne spoke after her 15-year-old daughter, Jillian, bravely took the podium and told the court and the world what happened.
Jillian said she started gymnastics when she was three and fought injuries on and off since she was 8. She said she first saw Larry Nassar at 8 and had appointments with him through the end of 2016.
You can watch a livestream Tuesday when the hearing begins on the FOX 2 Facebook page here.
"I was sexually abused by him hundreds of times without gloves or consent. These actions took place at either his house or Michigan State, wearing shorts or a leotard," she said.
Jillian continued and said that Nassar found an injury that no other doctor had found. She wondered if something was seriously wrong or if he did it for himself and found something that didn't exist.
"I thought you were doing it for me. I thought you were a good person, thought I could trust you. I was wrong," she said. "Hope that with victims speaking you feel horrible for what you did, but I know what you don't."
Jillian said she doesn't trust doctors but is determined to become one so that something like this doesn't happen to anyone else.
Then Anne took the podium.
"I remember thinking how lucky we were to have an elite gym and Olympic doctor in our back yard," Anne said. "What I thought was luck has turned into a nightmare. I willingly took my most precious gift in this world to you and you hurt her physically, mentally and emotionally. She was only 8. I will never get rid of the guilt that I have about this experience."
She then turned her attention to Michigan State and USA Gymnastics and said if either organization had told parents that Nassar was being investigated, Jillian could have experienced two fewer years of sexual abuse.
She said Nassar told her that he was leaving USAG to 'spend more time with family'. In truth, he was under investigation. She said she can't help blaming herself.
"I can't help but think: how did I miss the red flags? How is it that I misinterpreted your intent so wrongly. I wanted my daughter to get better, to achieve her dreams, to participate and succeed in a sport she loved."
By trusting Nassar, she said she watched her daughter sink into a girl that is sad and humiliated and afraid to trust. When Jillian told her what happened, she said she tried to rationalize that what Nassar was doing was medically necessary.
"To think I let this happen to my child when I was sitting right there. I tried to rationalize it, I told her muscles are located in that area and she said mom 'maybe for when my pelvis was hurt, but not for my quad and not for my leg," she said.
Anne thought Nassar was helping her young daughter and when she saw her grimacing in pain, she thought it was a knotted muscle, not sexual abuse.
Then she turned her attention to the audience watching.
"Quit shaming and blaming the parents, trust me, you would not have known and you wouldn't have done anything differently. so stop."
She ended her time by telling all victims and women who have testified that they are all-day tough.
Nassar, 54, has admitted molesting athletes during medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.
Nassar already has been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes. Under a plea deal, he will get a minimum of 25 to 40 years for digitally penetrating girls under the guise of medical treatment between 1998 and 2015.