Says she hopes for God’s “true forgiveness” for him, which he needs far more than her forgiveness
News of Larry Nassar being sentenced to 175 years of prison for sexually molesting more than 150 girls has been a big story this week. Nassar was an osteopathic physician for the US Gymnastic national team, and had been molesting well-known gymnasts for years including Simone Biles and Alexandra Raisman.
Rachel Denhollander, a former gymnast who was also one of Nassar’s victims, delivered a powerful and heart-breaking, yet graceful statement. Speaking to her abuser, Rachel spoke about her faith and how it has guided her to forgive him. She said that she prays he can experience “the soul crushing weight of guilt” so that he can experience and understand “true repentance” and God’s “true forgiveness”, which according to her, Nassar needs far more than her own forgiveness, even though she has already extended it.
During the sentencing hearing, Rachel was the last victim to give her statement. She also said that if Nassar ever truly faces everything he has done to these girls through the years, he will feel immense guilt. But this is where the Gospel of Christ can save him since it extends grace, hope and mercy even in places or people that do not deserve it.
During her statement which lasted for 36 minutes, she addressed Nassar, saying he would bring his Bible to court in their early hearings, speaking about praying for forgiveness. She said, “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.”
In 2016, Denhollander was the first woman to come forward and accuse Nassar of his crimes. She was one of his victims back in 2000, when she was just 15 years old. At the time, the accused was the sports doctor at Michigan State University. Today, Rachel is an attorney and married to husband, Jacob Denhollander, with whom she has three children – Jonathan, Annaliese and Elliana.
Several other victims also testified against Nassar, including Olympic champions Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas. Most reported that they were happy justice was finally served.