Watch CBS News

Nassar abuse survivors call out "rotting" and "diseased" institutions they say enabled him

Nassar abuse survivors speak out
Rachael Denhollander and Kyle Stephens on "empowering" testimonies against Larry Nassar 07:05

Former doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years behind bars Wednesday after a remarkable seven-day hearing in which more than 150 girls and women confronted the man they say abused them. Two of those women, Kyle Stephens and Rachael Denhollander, told "CBS This Morning" the institutions that allegedly allowed the abuse to continue for years are "diseased" and "rotting from the inside out."

Stephens, the first accuser to speak at the hearing, says Nassar started molesting her when she was 6. Denhollander, the first victim to come forward, was a 15-year-old gymnast when Nassar first treated her.

"It was empowering and it was beautiful to see so many women reclaiming their voice, but it was also incredibly heartbreaking because the vast majority of us did not need to be there. Had those first reports to MSU [Michigan State University] head coach Kathie Klages in 1997 been taken seriously, the vast majority of victims would not have been in that courtroom," Denhollander said.

Stephens said she told her parents about Nassar's behavior, and they reported it to a Michigan State doctor and professor.

"I didn't know there were other victims. I worried that there were…But I had no clue," Stephens said.

Rachael Denhollander, one of Larry Nassar's first public accusers, speaks out 19:14

While Denhollander says she was certain there had to be more victims, she knew one anonymous voice wouldn't be enough.

"It was unthinkable that there were not other victims who had come forward and who had been silenced and I was right. Women had been raising the alarm for years before I walked in Larry's door and had been silenced," Denhollander said.

In addition to working at Michigan State University, Nassar was also the team doctor for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. In a statement USA Gymnastics said: "Our organization's highest priority (is) the safety, health and well-being of our athletes."

Stephens said that statement is "unsupported."  

Added Denhollander, "USA Gymnastics is really an organization that's rotting from the inside out. They created a culture of physical, psychological, and mental abuse. But they also had a policy of not reporting sexual predators….When you have a culture that is abusive and then you have a policy of not reporting sexual abuse, you have created the perfect dynamic for a predator to be able to flourish."  

Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon resigned Wednesday night amid pressure over the abuse scandal and USA Gymnastics announced Monday that the leadership of its board of directors has resigned. 

"These institutions are diseased and they need to recognize that they're diseased. That's part of the problem is, up until this week they've been refusing to recognize what's going on in their ranks and they need to clean house," Stephens said. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.