You may have noticed that in the midst of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sentence hearing, there sat a canine who lent his best paw to the victims who courageously spoke out on the abuse they endured.
Meet Preston, the black Lab who was stationed outside Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s courtroom at the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan, as the young women who suffered sexual abuse from the disgraced doctor testified.
The pup, who is a trained therapy dog, interacts daily with kids who attend Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center, a nonprofit that serves youth who are survivors of physical or sexual abuse, for counseling. He also works with the court to provide support for children when they testify in court.
Though he could be seen wearing a blue bow tie to the hearing, he sometimes sports a more casual look — and it’s not just for show.
“It’s kind of a signal to him that he’s on the clock, so to speak,” Alex Brace, executive director of Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center, told the Lansing State Journal. “Once he takes off his bandana, it lets him know he can go back to being a puppy who’s just wagging his tail and playing around.”
As previously reported, in November the former USA Gymnastics doctor pleaded guilty to molesting 7 girls. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison in December in a federal child pornography case. More than 130 women and girls — including Olympians McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas — have all come forward with allegations of inappropriate or abusive sexual behavior.
Raisman and Wieber are two of the more than 100 women to speak out during Nassar’s criminal sex abuse case, which is now into its second week. The 54-year-old is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.
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