Victims of Nassar react to final sentencing in Eaton County: “I feel like I can breathe again”

CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WLNS) – In just nine days, during two separate hearings, more than 200 women and girls shared emotional stories of sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar.

Many of them saying their injuries went untreated for years, causing some to suffer permanent damage.

It was those stories, that Eaton County Circuit Court Judge Janice Cunningham took into consideration Monday, when she handed the former doctor his final prison sentence of another 40 to 125 years.

Katie Black talked with 6 News shortly after the hearing concluded. Black spoke to the court on Friday. She said Nassar’s abuse ruined her body and the sport she loved.

“It’s been very difficult, coming to terms with it to begin with took, a very long process,” Katie Black said. “And then trying to actually move through all the stages of grief but I think I’m doing pretty well now.”

Larissa Boyce, who talked to 6 News when she first became public with her story, said she told former MSU Gymnastics coach Kathie Klages about Nassar’s abuse in 1997.

Boyce, a former gymnast, who is now a mother of four, was at every single sentencing hearing in both Ingham and Eaton counties.

“I feel like a weigh is lifted off my shoulders, this huge burden that was weighing on me for so many years,” she said. “It is very surreal to finally be able to, I feel like I can breathe again.”

Rachael Denhollander was one of the first to come forward about Nassar’s abuse when she told her story to the IndyStar in Sept. of 2016.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to hear Judge Cunningham say this concludes the criminal prosecution of Larry Nassar,” Denhollander said. “At the same time, I am very relieved to hear her acknowledgement that we would not be here had the adults in authority done what they should have done 20 years ago.”

And while the criminal cases against Nassar are over, the fallout from this scandal continues, and now these women, who were once silenced for reporting his abuse, are using their voices to take aim at those who they say allowed him to flourish.

“We will now be turning our attention with even greater force to the institutional dynamics that led to the greatest sexual assault scandal in history,” Denhollander said.

“These places need to be more transparent so that this can never, ever happen again, anywhere,” Boyce said. “If they are able to show the world the mistakes they made and how they were negligent in this that is going to help make the changes that are necessary.”

The 40 to 125 year sentence Nassar received on Monday in Eaton County will be served concurrently with his sentence in Ingham County, which is 40 to 175 years.

Before he even gets to that, Nassar, who is 54 years-old, will have to serve 60-years in federal prison for admitting to possessing child pornography.