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Kalamazoo abuse survivor speaks out against USAG Gymnastics and Nassar appeals

Posted at 6:42 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 11:13:32-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Kalamazoo's Sterling Riethman is one of the hundreds of female athletes who came forward two years ago confronting former MSU Sports Dr. Larry Nassar on his covered up abuse, and fighting for change.

In 2018 Riethman testified against Nassar in court in part saying, "People talk about how you wanted to leave a legacy Larry, change the world of sports medicine, and leave your mark on USA Gymnastics. Well, take a look around. I think it's safe to say you've succeeded in that endeavor."

Today Riethman reflects on that moment saying, "I think actually looking him in the eye when we spoke to him, I think that was more kind of that moment of maybe he`s still in there, but you also recognized he had no power anymore."

No power at all.

A shell of a man, Nassar now serves out his life sentence for the sexual assault of minors in prison.

Meanwhile his defense team files fruitless appeals.

"It's exhausting with Larry's appeals process. I take it as him just trying to stay relevant," says Riethman.

"Trying to convince maybe himself that he still has some kind of control in this situation. I think for him, and people like him, it`s very hard to accept the fact that you lost, you were caught."

Also caught, USA Gymnastics.

This week Nassar survivors rejected a $215 million settlement from USAG, calling it, 'offensive'.

"For USAG I think," Riethman pauses to laugh.

"Finding words for USAG, I think USAG and the USOPC have shown time and time again that they don`t truly care about their athletes. They have done a lot of lip service to say that they do, and that they care about athletes, and they're going to protect their athletes, but all we`ve ever asked for is change and accountability and all they`re offering is money."

Riethman continues that money won`t keep future athletes from being abused... "Everyday I get google alerts with his name in it, every day I get google alerts with USAG in it, I still am getting mail to my house about the USAG lawsuits."

However, Riethman adds, accountability might; "Right now all we're seeing is them saying, 'Well we don't have any responsibility to protect our athletes, that wasn't on us.' And I would say now as a parent, then whose job is it?"

Times are changing.

New sexual abuse cases are being uncovered every month in the U.S., and Riethman says this systematic protection of predators has an expiration date.

"For as frustrating sometimes as this process can be, I also think that it's also a reminder that we're going to continue to fight and we're going to continue to help these survivors no matter what they're background is, no matter what their story is, because it's too important to just say this has an end date on it."

On Thursday, Riethman and other Nassar survivors joined men who have accused former U-M doctor Robert E. Anderson of systematic sexual assault ata press conference, calling for the Michigan attorney general to investigate.

The goal was to support these men as they courageously shared their stories of abuse.

Riethman says she wants all abuse survivors to know that you're not alone, and there are people in this world that will help fight for you.