“Dancing With The Stars” pro Cheryl Burke says she stands with the Olympic athletes who this week are delivering victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing for their abuser, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
“I’ve been following what has happened with the US women’s gymnastics team and wanted to take a minute to commend these young women for sharing their stories,” Burke, who was molested as a child, wrote on Instagram.
“I too have had to sit in a court room in front of the man who sexually abused me and share my experiences.”
The post was captioned “#MeToo.”
Burke shared her experience as a child victim of sexual abuse in a 2015 TLC documentary, “Breaking the Silence.” She eventually testified against a 60-something neighbor, who cared for her while her mother was working.
“He would cuddle me, he would make me watch pornographic videos. He was kind of like that fatherly figure ― I think he knew my weakness, that I was very insecure,” Burke said in the documentary. “He knew that no one was ever around.”
She added: “He would have me come sit next to him and make him feel comfortable because sometimes he would feel lonely. … I couldn’t speak up for myself. It was hard for me to say no. In a weird way it was like I didn’t want to hurt him.”
The abuser was caught attempting to molest one of Burke’s friends. Burke was 6 when she testified against him.
The sentencing hearing for Nassar began on Tuesday and may continue into Monday as 105 victims and family members are scheduled to read victim impact statements. Nassar, already serving a 60-year sentence on child pornography charges, faces a minimum of 25 additional years imprisonment in exchange for his guilty plea to molestation charges.
“He abused my trust. He abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away,” Maroney said in the statement.
“For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old. I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo. He’d given me a sleeping pill for the flight, and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night.”