Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over the case, called Ms. Denhollander the “five-star general” for an army of abuse survivors.
.. “You made this happen,” Judge Aquilina said. “You are the bravest person I’ve ever had in my courtroom.”
Ms. Denhollander said her only choice was to stand up for what was right, “no matter what it cost me.”
Much of the hearing’s legacy will be a cautionary tale for anyone in power who finds it easier to look away than to confront a Dr. Nassar. It will be about negligence and the incalculable harm caused by institutions that seem to prize self-preservation above all.
But Ms. Denhollander’s appearance in court was ultimately a hopeful reminder about the power of a single person.
.. “He penetrated me, he groped me, he fondled me,” she told the court. “And then he whispered questions about how it felt. He engaged in degrading and humiliating sex acts without my consent or permission.”
Later, she described the difficulty of learning to trust again — even the doctors in the delivery room where she had each of her three children. There was, she said, “a fear that hung over each birth” as memories of Dr. Nassar “cast a horrific shadow over what should have been an occasion of pure joy.”
.. Michigan State and U.S.A. Gymnastics, which made Dr. Nassar its longtime doctor for the national women’s team, were culpable in this case, too, Ms. Denhollander said.
.. She mentioned that Dr. Nassar had used his phony medical treatments on her after four other women had complained about Dr. Nassar to employees in the M.S.U. athletic department.
.. When Ms. Denhollander addressed Dr. Nassar, she remained stoic. She recalled the time he brought his young daughter to the office just so she could hold her.
“You knew how much I loved children and you used your own daughter to manipulate me,” she said. “Every time I held my babies, I prayed to God you would leave your abuse in the exam room and not take it home to the little girl born with black hair just like her daddy.”
.. As soon as The Star’s article alerted her to other abuse that had been overlooked in her sport, fear and shame began to melt away. Ms. Denhollander knew she had to tell her story.