January 17, 2018
By Kyle Swenson
Two school pictures floated side-by-side on a projection screen in the Michigan courtroom.
Both images caught the same small girl — in one, all gawky smile and bangs; the next, braces and long hair — a few years apart. Until this week, the child in the snapshots had been officially identified only as “Victim Z.A.” or “a family friend.”
But on Tuesday, Kyle Stephens, now a young woman, stepped out from the curtain of anonymity to directly address disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar before a judge in Lansing.
“I was the first to testify in this case, and worried of the attention that could come of that, I asked for complete anonymity,” Stephens explained, the pictures of her projected over her shoulder stemming from the time of her abuse. “I’m addressing you publicly today as a final step and statement to myself that I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
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“I have been coming for you for a long time,” she told Nassar, who hid his eyes beneath his hand through the testimony. “I’ve told counselors your name in hopes they would report you. I’ve told your name to Child Protective Services twice. I gave a testament to get your medical license revoked. You were first arrested on my charges. And now as the only nonmedical victim to come forward, I testify to let the world know you are a repulsive liar.”
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When she was 12 years old, thanks to news accounts of the Catholic Church priest abuse and a friend’s own story about molestation, Stephens realized what was happening. She told her parents about what Nassar had been doing to her. Her parents confronted their friend.
“Due to complex details that I won’t get into here, my parents choose to believe Larry Nassar over me,” she said. Convinced their daughter had made a false allegation against a friend, Stephens’s parents brought Nassar over to their home to speak to her. Nassar told her, “No one should ever do that, and if they do, you should tell someone,” Stephens told the court.
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