Rachael Denhollander has been hailed a hero after leading the charge against Larry Nassar’s monstrous behavior.
She was 15 years old when Nassar assaulted her in 2001. The memory, she says, haunted her. She spent years researching his so-called “treatments” and gathering evidence. She even became a lawyer.
In September 2016, she told her story to The Indianapolis Star newspaper. It was the beginning of the end for the doctor.
“The cost, emotional and physical, to see this through has been greater than you will ever know,” she told a Michigan courtroom Wednesday. She was the last person to read an impact statement during Nassar’s sentencing.
“But Larry, I want you to understand why I made that choice, knowing full well what the cost would be, and with little hope of succeeding. I did it because it. Was. Right. No matter the cost, it was right. And the farthest I can run from what you have become is to daily choose what is right instead of what I want,” she added.
Denhollander’s courage inspired others to step out of the shadows and her army grew to 156 determined survivors.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who handed down his sentence Wednesday, gave her the credit.
“You built an army of survivors and you are a five-star general,” she told Denhollander. “You made all of this happen. You made all of this matter.”
The judge also added that Denhollander was “the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom.”
“It was empowering and it was beautiful to see so many women reclaiming their voice,” Denhollander told CBS This Morning Thursday. “But it was also incredibly heartbreaking because the vast majority of us did not need to be there.”
Like many victims, Rachel’s mother was in the examination room when Nassar abused her. They had no idea what was going on and now, many parents are wondering if the same thing could happen to their children.
Inside Edition spoke to Manhattan pediatrician Dr. Dyan Hes, who says it’s important to pay attention to how your child reacts to the doctor.
“It is abominable,” she said of Nassar’s crimes. “It turns my stomach when I think about. It ruins everything we work so hard for in our profession for that we want to establish trust with our patients.”
She said to make sure “your child is not trying to run out of the office, and that your child feels safe at the table and that if you’re being asked to step out of the room and you have to know why you are being asked to step out of the room.”
If a parent sees that a doctor is being invasive by touching a child’s private parts, they should intervene at once.
“Unless that is the reason you came for, you have to stop that immediately, you just have to put an end to it. You say, ‘This is not right, this not what we are here for and I need to know what you are doing to my child.’ And if it’s inappropriate you have to report that doctor,” she added.
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty in November to seven charges of criminal sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.