‘He was so sly’: Local victim of Nassar speaks out after testifying

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SHOREWOOD, Ill. — In Michigan Monday, there was more gripping and emotional testimony at the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, the former gymnastics coach who was found guilty of sexually assaulting and molesting young girls.

Nassar has admitted to sexually assaulting and abusing young girls under the guise of providing medical treatment.

As part of his plea deal, all of the victims who reported assaults to Michigan State Police were allowed to give victim impact statements at the sentencing. Prosecutors say a total of about 144 victims’ impact statements will be read or delivered in court. The statements could last into Tuesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said.

A woman who now lives in suburban Shorewood, Olivia Cowan, read an impact statement in court.

Cowan says she had no idea Nassar behavior’s was anything unusually wrong. He exuded confidence.

“He was so sly, even with a mother in the room,” she said. “His demeanor stood for trust.”

Cowan excelled at gymnastics as a youth growing up in Michigan. In time, her lower back injury would lead her to the campus of Michigan State University and the medical offices of Nassar.

Cowan was just 13 when he abused her, but says it was ultimately an Indiana newspaper’s investigation that led to a light bulb moment for her.

Cowan is now married and a mother of two daughters. She’s a cosmetologist who runs a business in Rockdale.  She wants to be part of an education campaign to send a message that people who looked the other way, will be held accountable.

“I am really struggling with the people who could have prevented this and saved so many women,” she said. “I want women and girls to know they are not alone.”

Nassar also has pleaded guilty to three charges of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County, Mich., and already has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for federal child pornography charges.

Also Monday, the national governing body for the sport announced that its top executives were stepping down.

USA Gymnastics, which counted Nassar as part of its medical staff or as national team doctor through four Olympic cycles, announced the resignations from its board of directors in a tweet. Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley have resigned, effective Sunday, the tweet said.

The board of directors will name an interim chairperson as it searches for a permanent replacement.

“We support their decisions to resign at this time. We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry said, according to another tweet.

“As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve,” she said.

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