Preston, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, sits outside a Michigan courtroom where over 100 women and girls have testified against super sleazeball Dr. Larry Nassar, 54, former Michigan State University and Olympic gymnastics team doctor.
Normally Preston would be next to victims of child sexual abuse on the witness stand when they are testifying, but in this case public interest is high, there are many witnesses and the courtroom is crowded.
"Having Preston here has just been a joy," said Samantha Ursch, 29, who testified about abuse by Nassar in 2011 while she was a gymnast at Central Michigan University. "He really seeks out wanting to comfort people."
Ursch came from her home in Florida to be in the courtroom each day of Nassar's sentencing hearing. She is the first woman to accuse him of sexual assault.
"[Preston] is a comfort, especially for a lot of us that have pets at home," she said. "I'm away from my two dogs so having him here has been amazing and comforting."
Preston began his career as a therapy dog in September 2016 at Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center in Lansing. He provides unconditional love and comfort to people when they really need it, those who have survived sexual assault.
Preston can go in any courtroom in Ingham County when a request is made by the family or prosecutors. In this case the state's attorney general’s office made the request.
Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in a Michigan trial last year. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography and faces additional charges which will put him in jail for 175 years.
Safe to say his days of preying on little girls is at an end.
The Indianapolis Star which broke the story reported that at least 368 gymnasts have claimed sexual abuse over the past 20 years. Hopefully this trial will send a message to USA Gymnastics and any other organization which has turned a blind eye to enable perverts.