Speaking Out Heals Sterling Riethman from Dr. Larry Nassar

Apr 11, 2019

Sterling Riethman, a former gymnast, was one of the first sexual abuse survivors of Dr. Larry Nassar to publicly identify herself.
Credit Courtesy photo

It was in 2016 that the world first learned of sexual assault allegations against former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics sports doctor Larry Nassar. Ex-gymnast and diver Sterling Riethman was one of the first women to allow herself to be publicly named. She tells WMUK's Earlene McMichael that she never suspected that what Nassar had done to her was anything other than legitimate medical treatment. 


Riethman, now a married mother of a newborn and living in Kalamazoo, shared her story today on the WestSouthwest news and public affairs show. She'll speak on April 17 at the 23rd anniversary dinner of Sexual Assault Services in Battle Creek. She said doing advocacy work in the area of sexual assault is aiding in her healing.

Riethman recalled that it was not until she read former gymnast Rachael Denhollander describe the nature of her “pelvic floor treatments” with Dr. Nassar in a 2016 article in the Indianapolis Star that she started to question the professionalism of Nassar. 

In disbelief, Riethman said she did a Google search on the treatment and realized Nassar had crossed the line, touching her in ways that was not standard protocol.

She said she then filed a police report and obtained a lawyer. She publicly identified herself in 2017.  Immediately, she said, Denhollander contacted her offering encouragement and support. The two had known each other from when Riethman used to be a gymnast.

Riethman said she has a lawsuit pending against USA Gymnastics.

The 26-year-old Riethman said she has known Dr. Nassar since she was 10 years old. She would frequent his MSU office for help for her gymnastic injuries.

In high school, she switched to diving, and continued with the sport upon enrolling at Dennison University in Ohio. When she again found herself injured, she traveled to Nassar.

That's when, at age 20, that he, unknowing to her, according to Riethman, began sexual assaulting her during her doctor visits.

Riethman is one of more than 250 women who have stepped forward with stories of sexual abuse at the hands of Dr. Nassar, who is currently serving time after his sentencing for those and related crimes.

Hear a longer interview here.

WestSouthwest news & public affairs show airs Mondays and Thursdays on WMUK 102.1 FM at 7:34 a.m., 9:34 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. You can subscribe to the WestSouthwest podcast through Apple iTunes and Google Music. There you can leave a rating and write a review.