EAST LANSING, Mich. – The victims of former Michigan State University and U.S.A. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar addressed the Board of Trustees Friday, believing the institution should also be held accountable.
Nassar's 60 years in prison for child pornography might be extended to 85 years in the upcoming sentencing in Ingham and Eaton Counties, putting him away for life, but it's not over for his victims, who spoke to the MSU Board of Trustees during a meeting Friday.
The victims, along with their attorney, claim they have been trying for months to have a discussion with the university.
Supporters of the victims filled the room with handmade signs and their mouths covered to show support.
"The way that this university has conducted itself in the midst of continued discoveries about Nassar's abuse is, frankly, an embarrassment," a woman told the board.
The university was accused of not doing enough to stop Nassar from assaulting the young athletes. Allegedly, the university had been receiving reports about sexual assault since the 1990s, they claim. MSU board members denied that they were ever informed of the abuse.
Regardless, the victims wanted to make sure the board heard their stories.
"At night, I lay in bed and wonder, 'Why don't these people care about me? Why don't you hear our cries?'" Jessica Smith said, her voice cracking.
Many of the victims are blaming Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. Nassar treated young women and girls from both organizations. His victims claim both programs failed to protect them, even after the misconduct was reported.
"How can you say you did a complete internal investigation without speaking to the victims, such as myself?" Smith said.
"I am absolutely committed to change the systems that embolden a sexual predator," MSU trustee Dianne Byrum told the crowd.
"Would you have apologized had we all not shown up today?" Kaylee Lorincz asked.
"If it had come to light that somebody had covered up anything to do with Nassar, there's not a question on my mind, every single one of these people would raise their hand," MSU trustee Mitch Lyons said.
The Board of Trustees said they were still investigating the situation, denying the allegations of a cover-up. The victims don't believe the denial, believing instead that someone within the organization had to be aware of the abuse to some degree.
"The system failed these women for the past 20 years," said John Manly, attorney representing the victims.
Meanwhile, Michigan State University officials have repeatedly stated there was no wrongdoing.
"MSU and its external counsel have consistently promised if it were to find any employee knew of and acquiesced in Nassar's misconduct, it would immediately be reported to law enforcement," a statement from university officials reads.