A woman at the centre of a major sexual abuse trial says she prays her abuser will experience the “crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God”.
Rachael Denhollander called for the “maximum sentence” for the ex-US Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar at his trial in Michigan, USA.
Later, following testimonies from over 150 victims, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina handed down a jail term of up to 175 years.
Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar in 2016, and spoke on Wednesday about the abuse she suffered.
She also told the court about God’s offer of forgiveness for those who truly repent, as she noted that her abuser held a Bible in court.
Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet.
“If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit.
“By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.”
“Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing.
“And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found.
“And it will be there for you.”
Denhollander, who spoke about the abuse’s damaging effect on her relationship with her husband, said Nassar requires God’s forgiveness “far more than forgiveness from me”, but she added, “I extend that to you as well”.
Imploring the judge to make it clear that Nassar’s actions were evil, Denhollander said: “I plead with you to impose the maximum sentence under the plea agreement because everything is what these survivors are worth.”
At the trial in Ingham County Circuit Court, some 156 women gave testimonies detailing the abuse they suffered.
Nassar pleaded guilty to a number of counts, but later wrote to the judge claiming he had been manipulated into the decision and saying he was “a good doctor because my treatments worked”.
Handing down the lengthy sentence, Judge Aquilina told him, “you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again”.