How Judge Rosemarie Aquilina Gave Larry Nassar's Survivors a Voice

“Little girls don’t stay little forever,” Kyle Stephens read to Larry Nassar in front of a courtroom of people. “They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

Yes, they do.

Stephens and over 150 other women returned to rightfully destroy the world of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor who sexually abused over 260 young women.

The women read their tearful and moving statements over the course of seven days to a courtroom in Ingham County, detailing their traumatic years of sexual abuse -- all at the hands of the same doctor. After a week of listening to Nassar’s victims give their powerful statements, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina rightfully sentenced him to up to 175 years in prison, meaning Nassar will die incarcerated.

Having each willing victim read their statement was beyond impactful for everyone who watched -- and proved that the victims would no longer be silenced in the courtroom.

These statements were far from gentle. They were powerful, compelling, and dominant, and -- something that Nassar won’t ever be able to forget.

Gymnast Jade Capua called Lassar a “monster who left me with more pain and scars than I came to his office with.”

Gymnast Rachael Denhollander called Nassar the “most dangerous type of abuser.”

Gymnast Mattie Larson told the courtroom that Larry turned gymnastics into her “personal living hell.”

Those are only three of the 150+ statements made in the Ingham County courtroom.

Indeed, this seven-day hearing was very unconventional. Many were shocked that Judge Aquilina gave such a large platform for these 150+ victims. That she allowed these women to speak with such power and emotion, directly to their perpetrator, which was virtually unheard of in a courtroom before this.

Judge Aquilina may not have fulfilled the role of a traditional judge, but she certainly fulfilled the role of a human. She welcomed the voices of girls and women who spent their entire childhood in silence. Enlarging the role of the victim in this case was not only compassionate, but necessary.

While many find Judge Aquilina’s actions unprofessional and unbefitting of a judge, she made a wise choice by letting each and every willing victim share her story. Allowing these women to come forward in a judgement-free zone gave them the chance to tell the world of the horrible crimes committed by Nassar. After years of holding in these nightmarish memories, the victims were finally able to express the pain the Nassar inflicted on their mind, body, and soul.

With men like Brock Turner having served only three months in prison, it’s about time that justice is actually served to perpetrators of sexual assault. It’s comforting to know that Nassar will spend the rest of his life paying for his heinous crimes, however, it’s even more comforting to know that these survivors are louder than their oppressor.

After seven days of tearful speeches and powerful words, the victims of Larry Nassar were given justice far more powerful than any amount of jail time -- they were finally, after years upon years, given a voice.