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Wednesday 20 June 2018

Olympic champion tells abuser: I won’t live as a victim

Larry Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in jail for child pornography offences.

Jordyn Wieber arrives in court for the fourth day of Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing (AP)
Jordyn Wieber arrives in court for the fourth day of Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing (AP)

By David Eggert and Mike Householder

Olympic gold medallist Jordyn Wieber has told a court she will not live as a victim as she confronted a former sports doctor convicted of sexual abuse.

Ms Wieber, who won a gymnastics team gold during the 2012 games in London, described herself in a victim impact statement as one of 140 survivors of sexual assault by Larry Nassar.

The 22-year-old is the fourth member of the “Fierce Five” — the 2012 US Olympic gymnastics team — to publicly speak about the abuse by Nassar, which was carried out under the guise of medical treatment.

On the fourth day of Nasser’s sentencing hearing, Ms Wieber told the courtroom in Lansing, Michigan: “Even though I’m a victim, I do not and will not live my life as one.

“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.”

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Ms Wieber gives her victim impact statement (AP)

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 was also a team doctor at the Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He has already has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes.

Michigan’s attorney general said his office will conduct a review of Michigan State University’s handling of complaints against Nassar.

Bill Schuette said “a full and complete review, report and recommendation” is required.

There are also growing calls for Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon to resign or be fired.

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Former Olympians Aly Raisman, left, and Jordyn Wieber sit in court (AP)

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

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 US 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.

Women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages resigned last year after she was suspended for defending Nassar for years.

Press Association

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