Lawyer and Former Gymnast Victim Helped Take Down Larry Nassar
The rare story of the criminal turned lawyer will often turn heads for the tale of redemption and self reflection. However, just as inspiring is the even rarer story of a victim turned lawyer that helps to bring down their former attacker.
For one lawyer, that is part of her story. Rachael Denhollander, at the age of 15, was abused by the now infamous former gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. Sixteen years later, after becoming a mother and an attorney, she became the first victim to step forward to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse. Her public accounting led to countless other victims coming forward.
From Victim to Victorious
Denhollander's story of abuse is similar to many others of Nassar's victims. As a young teen gymnast, Nassar used his authority as a leading sports medicine doctor to sexually assault her. Nassar's modus operandi was to use "pelvic therapy" to help gymnasts; however, rather than actually doing that, he assaulted his victims. One hundred and fifty plus victims, thanks to one now beloved judge, were able to tell their stories in open court prior to Nassar's sentencing. Like Judge Aquilina, Denhollander has also been celebrated as a hero.
As an attorney, Denhollander was able to gather the right evidence the police, district attorney, courts and the public, would require to prove such a case: Namely medical literature that explained that pelvic therapy was not performed the way Nassar was doing it, and her medical records showing Nassar convenient left out these treatments. Knowing the challenge ahead of her due to the cultural bias against claims like hers, Denhollander also brought with her a letter from another district attorney vouching for her, other records of her abuse, and names of actual experts able to testify.
And while Denhollander explained that her legal training prepared her for knowing what and how to present to prove her claims, nothing could prepare her for the loss of privacy, and the level of criticism, she would face. Likely due to her status as an attorney, she was even called an ambulance chaser.
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