Rachael Denhollander

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Rachael Denhollander
Rachael Joy Moxon

(1984-12-08) December 8, 1984 (age 34)
ResidenceLouisville, Kentucky
Alma materOak Brook College of Law and Government Policy
Spouse(s)Jacob Denhollander
AwardsArthur Ashe Courage Award (2018)

Rachael Joy Denhollander (née Moxon; born December 8, 1984) is an American lawyer and former gymnast. She was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor, of sexual assault.[1] Denhollander is a TIME 100 honoree and a 2018 Glamour Woman of the Year.

Early life[edit]

Denhollander was born on December 8, 1984 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Paul and Camille Moxon. She was homeschooled and practiced gymnastics at a local club. In 2004 she coached gymnastics.[2] She began law school at Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy when she was 19.[3]


Denhollander told the MSU Police Department in August 2016, filed a Title IX complaint with the university and then shared her story of sexual abuse with the Indianapolis Star.[4] Denhollander said Nassar sexually assaulted her when she was a 15-year-old gymnast and sought treatment from him for lower back pain.[5]

Denhollander came forward 16 years after Nassar first abused her,[6] which led to a floodgate of hundreds[7] of other women who came forward with similar allegations against him. At least seven other young women told someone about Nassar over a twenty-year period before Denhollander did likewise,[8] but her complaint was the first to gain traction.[9] Nassar initially denied the accusations,[10] then admitted guilt in a plea agreement[11] and now is imprisoned for the rest of his life.[12] Before he was sentenced, more than 200 women gave testimonies about his abuse in two courtrooms over nine days in county courtrooms near Lansing.[13] Denhollander was the last to speak during both of Nassar's sentencing hearings.[14]

In asking the judges to impose the maximum sentence on Nassar, Denhollander said, "How much is a little girl worth?"[15] She answered her own question: "These victims are worth everything ... I plead with you to impose the maximum sentence under the plea agreement because everything is what these survivors are worth.[16]" In Ingham County, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said Denhollander "built an army of survivors"[17] and called her "a five-star general."[18] Aquilina also said Denhollander was "the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom."[19]

Denhollander has been bestowed with many honors for bringing Nassar to justice, including Time magazine naming her to its 2018 list of the world's 100 Most Influential People.[20] On May 16, 2018 it was announced that the survivors of the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal would be awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.[21] On December 12, 2018, Denhollander was announced as the winner of the Sports Illustrated's Inspiration of the Year Award[22]. The award was announced by Christine Blasey Ford, who, a few months earlier testified to Congress alleging then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her as a teenager.

Denhollander said that she left her former church in Louisville, Kentucky over her concerns about their affiliation with Sovereign Grace Churches. Even though her church had never been affiliated with Sovereign Grace Churches, the leadership of her former church, Immanuel Baptist Church, issued an apology for not properly addressing Denhollander's concerns, saying their initial response had been "sinfully unloving."[23]

In March 2019, Denhollander announced that she would be publishing two books – a memoir titled What Is a Girl Worth? and a children's book titled How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?.[24]

Personal life[edit]

In 2006, Denhollander met her husband, Jacob. They have four children together: Jonathan, Annaliese, Ellianna and Elora.[25] Elora was given the middle name of Renee to honor Michigan State University Det. Lt. Andrea Renee Munford, "who fought for us and made redeeming so much evil, possible."[26]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Rachael Denhollander: The voice that began end of Nassar". Detroit News. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  2. ^ "'I can't be the only one,' former Nassar patient seeks justice". Booth Newspapers. February 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "How a gymnast-turned-lawyer helped bring Larry Nassar to justice". ABA Journal. January 29, 2018.
  4. ^ "Gymnast accuses former USAG doctor of abuse". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  5. ^ "Three alleged Nassar victims testify at preliminary examination hearing". The State News. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  6. ^ "Rachael Denhollander: 'It took all of our voices to get here'". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  7. ^ "Kate Wells on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  8. ^ "What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse". Detroit News. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  9. ^ "In Larry Nassar's Case, a Single Voice Eventually Raised an Army". The New York Times. January 24, 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  10. ^ "Larry Nassar was sometimes arrogant, sometimes nervous, during only interview on sex abuse". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  11. ^ "Ex-gymnastics doctor Nassar pleads guilty to additional sex charges". NBC News. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  12. ^ "Larry Nassar transferred to federal prison in Arizona". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  13. ^ "Compelling moments from Larry Nassar's Eaton County sentencing hearing". MLive.com. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  14. ^ "Read Rachael Denhollander's full victim impact statement about Larry Nassar". CNN. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  15. ^ "'How much is a little girl worth'?". BBC News. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  16. ^ "In her own words: Nassar victim's emotional statement". Detroit News. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  17. ^ "Abused gymnast receives standing ovation in court as Larry Nassar is sent to prison". The Independent. January 25, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  18. ^ "Abused gymnast receives standing ovation in court as Larry Nassar is sent to prison". The Independent. January 25, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  19. ^ "Abused gymnast receives standing ovation in court as Larry Nassar is sent to prison". The Independent. January 25, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  20. ^ "Rachael Denhollander: The World's 100 Most Influential People". Time. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  21. ^ "Larry Nassar Sexual Assault Survivors to Receive Arthur Ashe Award For Courage At ESPYs". Sports Illustrated. May 16, 2018.
  22. ^ "Rachael Denhollander wins SI's Inspiration of the Year award". SI.com. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  23. ^ "Rachael Denhollander's Former Church Apologizes for Mishandling Ex-Gymnast's Concerns". Immanuel Baptist Church. May 31, 2018.
  24. ^ "Rachael Denhollander, leading voice against Larry Nassar's abuse, writes memoir, children's book". USA Today. March 10, 2019.
  25. ^ "Former Gymnast Who Claims Dr. Larry Nassar Molested Her: My Family Is 'My Safe Place'". People. March 30, 2017.
  26. ^ "Rachael Denhollander names newborn daughter after MSU detective who built Nassar case". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved July 21, 2018.