FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For days victims of Dr. Larry Nassar have been giving victim impact statements at his sentencing. The former USA Gymnastics Team doctor pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct.
One local expert has been watching the proceedings. Forensic Interviewer Patricia Smallwood has interviewed countless sexual assault victims. She said watching Nassar’s victims, some of them recognizable faces, will greatly impact other sex abuse victims across the world.
A lot of what Smallwood has heard over the last several days she’s heard before.
“It shakes your confidence,” Smallwood said. “It makes you feel less than you ought to be. Those are the things we hear all the time.”
“He abused my trust,” Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney wrote in her victim impact statement. “He abused my body, and he left scars on my psyche that will never go away.”
On Friday, some of the more recognizable faces that Nassar abused appeared in court and gave their victim impact statements– Olympic medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber. Smallwood said their appearances will help all kinds of victims like those who have yet to come forward about their abuse.
“They’ll see it has happened to other people, and not just other people, but people who are famous,” Smallwood said.
It will also help the victims who have come forward, but are still dealing with the trauma.
“For them to understand that they’re not alone, and it’s not something you get over over night,” Smallwood said. “That in fact it does impact your life.”
By the end of the sentencing hearing upward of 100 victims will have given impact statements. Smallwood knows this moment will stay with abuse victims for years to come. She hopes it sticks with those who have not dealt with this kind of trauma as well.
“I really hope it changes the conversation and changes what we’re doing in our own families,” she said.
Nassar faces between 20-40 years in prison. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges.