Michigan gubernatorial candidate joined by Nassar victim's parents in latest campaign ads

The parents of a young girl who was sexually assaulted by former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar praise Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette in a pair of new campaign ads, saying he gave “a voice to the voiceless” in his handling of the case.

As Michigan’s attorney general, Schuette’s office filed criminal charges against Nassar, who will spend multiple decades in prison for child pornography and assault. He’s been accused of molesting hundreds of people, including Olympic gymnasts and Michigan State athletes, over a decades-long span.

Schuette is now running for governor in a tight race against Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. Fox News has ranked the Michigan gubernatorial election as a tossup.

In recently released campaign ads, Lee and Mark Weick applaud Schuette for his handling of the case against Nassar. The couple from Midland, Michigan, said their daughter, Helena, had been assaulted by Nassar when she was just 12 years old.

“When Larry Nassar preyed on my daughter and hundreds of other young women, Bill Schuette stepped forward. Bill and his team stood by the survivors and their families and put Nassar behind bars for life,” Mark Weick said in one ad. “Take it from a grateful father: Bill Schuette is unwavering in his commitment for justice and healing for the survivors.”

In a longer ad, Lee Weick said Schuette “had the approach of giving a voice to the survivors, of giving a voice to the voiceless.” She said he “prosecuted the case with tenacity and compassion until Nassar was convicted and there was justice for our daughter and for all of the survivors.”

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During Nassar’s sentencing hearing earlier this year, more than 200 people in two counties were able to give statements, detailing the emotional and physical abuse they suffered at the hands of Nassar.

Nassar had pleaded guilty to assaulting seven people in the Lansing area between 1998 and 2015.

Schuette told The Detroit News his office pushed for the allowance of the victim impact statements as part of Nassar’s plea deal, despite objections from the former doctor and his lawyers.

“They didn’t want a public discussion about this,” Schuette said. “He wanted to plead guilty, and I said, ‘Fine, but every survivor who wants to make a victim impact statement in open court or in a written statement had to have that opportunity.’”

Schuette added his office had initially only expected about 50 survivors to speak, as opposed to the 204.

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Lee Weick said her family hasn’t been very political, but they wanted to back Schuette because of the support he gave to them.

“We haven’t been involved in politics, but we feel strongly that when someone takes on a responsibility and is a public servant and does their job well … that needs to be appreciated and supported,” she told The Detroit News. “That’s what Bill Schuette did.”

Schuette isn’t the first candidate to use support from Nassar’s survivors for a campaign. Rachael Denhollander and Kaylee Lorincz appeared in a commercial titled “Justice” for Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who lost the GOP primary, earlier this year.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is prevented from running for re-election this year due to term limits.

Schuette has been endorsed by President Trump.