LANSING, Mich. — A former gymnast who had been sexually abused by sports doctor Larry Nassar when she was 15 presented the gospel on Wednesday in delivering her victim impact statement in court.
Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to speak out in 2016 after USA Gymnastics was accused of failing to properly handle sexual assault accusations lodged by young gymnasts, and she was also one of the last to have a say this week as Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.
“Larry, you have become a man ruled by selfish, perverted desires. A man defined by his daily choices over, and over again, to feed that selfishness and perversion,” she said as she addressed Nassar during her 36-minute statement. “You chose to pursue your wicked desires, no matter what it cost others. The opposite of what you have done, therefore, is choosing to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.”
Denhollander noted that she had observed Nassar previously bring his Bible to court and that he had said that he had prayed for forgiveness.
“If you have read the Bible you carry, you know that the definition of sacrificial love portrayed in it is of God Himself loving so sacrificially that He gave up everything to pay the penalty for sin He did not commit. By His grace, I too, choose to love—no matter what it costs,” she said.
The 32-year-old, who is now married and works as an attorney, then warned Nassar that he must repent of his evil deeds.
“You spoke of praying for forgiveness, but Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, then you know that forgiveness does not come by doing good things, as if good deeds can wipe out the incredible evil you have committed,” Denhollander outlined. “It comes from repentance, which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done, in all its utter depravity and horror. Without mitigation. Without excuse. Without pretending you can cover it with good things.”
“The Bible you carry says it is better for a millstone to be tied around your neck and you thrown into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And Larry, you have wounded hundreds of children,” she continued. “The Bible you carry speaks of a final judgment where all of God’s wrath, in all its eternal terror, is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the weight of guilt in the face of the horrific evil you committed, will be crushing.”
After explaining the consequences of sin, Denhollander presented the grace of the Lord as Christ took the place of undeserving sinners.
“And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it gives hope and grace where none should be found,” she outlined. “And I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt someday, so that it can be followed by true repentance and forgiveness from God.”
According to reports, Nassar dabbed at his eyes during some of the victim impact statements that were delivered over the seven-day hearing, and other times he sat emotionless. Over 150 women who state that they were abused by Nassar while coming to him for treatment spoke during the sentencing hearing.