date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
Your Honor, life through a child’s eyes is a place where bad things don’t make sense. Rarely do you see or hear a child that doesn’t smile at the thought of life. A child is just what I was, a 13 year old who didn’t see the world as a terrifying place, not until I was faced with the life changing experience that stole my innocence far too young. Not until the day that you, Mr. Nassar, violated the right to be called a doctor and took something from I and all of the other strong women that stand behind me today.
I was in a state of great desperation when I paid my visit to Doctor Nassar, or as he liked his patients to refer to him, Larry. Prior to my visit I had been recommended by gymnastic coaches. I heard words such as, you’ll love him. He’s a miracle worker. He can fix anyone or anything.
Thinking back to these words filling my naive mind, all I can think of is how this man, someone who held so many high credentials, was the monster who left me with more pain and scars than I came to his office with, the pain of never trusting someone physically again and the scars of being touched and exposed in places that were completely inappropriate.
That day in the office is a day that will never be forgotten. My family and I drove from Naperville, Illinois, to Mr. Nassar’s office at the Michigan State facility in Lansing, Michigan. I can’t begin to explain the feeling I had moments after this immoral act had been performed.
I got a moment to myself after the assault when I sat in the bathroom at the facility. I sat there in great disbelief, complete shock, and total humiliation. I couldn’t fathom the idea of what had just occurred.
There isn’t a day that goes by since July 1st, 2013, that I don’t cringe at the disturbing violation that this man had put me through. This horrific headline had finally reached the media three years later of too many girls losing something that should have never been stolen; innocence, privacy, safety, and trust.
One day about three weeks after this had initially hit the news I was sitting in English class and we were discussing the meaning of the word depravity. This word means wickedness or performing immorally corrupt acts. The example my English teacher gave to further explain this disturbing word was this. One day about — excuse me. The other day I saw in the news that an Olympic gymnastic doctor had — that was the moment I was dreading, that moment where I had become the victim of a heartbreaking news story that my English teacher was casually discussing in class. Of course, she was unaware. Everyone was. My face was filled with terror and panic as soon as the words Olympic gymnastic doctor filled the room. I sat in my desk shaking as if I was back in that office being violated.
I previously described how this event stole my innocence, and that is what carries with me to this day. For years I was afraid to give myself and my trust to anyone. I wasn’t willing to be heard again. I had tried to hold on to every bit of innocence I felt I had left. I was terrified to date anyone because I knew that physically and mentally I couldn’t get past this internal barrier. I was afraid to lose myself to another person who didn’t deserve it.
Last year I found someone who took me in and handled me with great care. I learned to trust his loving arms and appreciate the endless love he had for me despite my intimacy issues. I finally feel as though I got my innocence back. I gained back what I lost unexpectedly, and I’m grateful for that every day.
I’m speaking on behalf of all the girls who experienced this tragedy, whether it was one time or multiple times. Once is far too much to be put through. Some may be scared to share their experience. I was. I still am sometimes. There are some days that this horrifying experience fills my brain and I can’t think about anything else.
It left a mental scar that unfortunately will always be something that happened. However, I am a strong believer that wounds heal into scars and these scars become stories that you share and heal from each day as time goes on. A voice must be heard in order for all these victims of this tragic event
to reach a level of closure. Justice must be served. I am speaking to all the parents out there, including my own, who could have been in the very room that this event happened but was manipulated into believing that Mr. Nassar was healing us, as any normal doctor is supposed to do. You are not to blame. I can tell you that the thought of, well, if my parents would have just done, has never crossed my brain, and I can speak of other daughters who experienced this as well.
To all the significant others of these girls, nothing means more to them than the way you love them and show them how to love themselves. That is only going to help us heal, so thank you to both parents and significant others for going through these horrifying events with us and being there as a shoulder to cry on or a hand to squeeze tight.
To all the girls that have shown so much bravery throughout this, I could not be more proud of each and every one of you. Although I may not know each of you personally, I can stand here and say that you are all my heroes.
Lastly, a few words to Mr. Larry Nassar.
You broke and shattered a lot of girls. You manipulated us to trust you because you’re a doctor and doctors do no wrong, only heal. You are not a healer. You performed acts of depravity just as my English teacher described. You are also the one that must face what you have done for the rest of your life. I am no longer broken by you.
Every day I grow a new strength and look into the mirror to see a strong, unbreakable person. Nothing will ever take away what you have done to me or to the others that stand behind me. However, we can walk free and radiate the strength that we have gained from your horrific acts, something you will never be able to do.
Although I no longer see the world through a child’s eyes, I have become this powerful individual that is taking this opportunity to speak for what I believe in. I am not the only one who suffered from these acts, and I know that this is not an easy thing to hear. The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter if this topic is uncomfortable to listen to or discuss. It is something that happened and needs to be addressed,
I am hopeful that this letter not only speaks to those in this room or those involved with this case but to anyone who hears of these headlines. These acts were completely immoral and horrific and I am confident that Mr. Nassar will get what he deserves. In the meantime, I hope that the effects that this tragedy has had on young girls is strong enough to make a change.
Initially when I was asked if I wanted to remain anonymous when I read my letter today I immediately thought, yes. This is something about me that I have always been afraid to share with people.
I couldn’t help but fear that people were going to look at my differently when this was nothing — this was something that I did not ask to happen to me. After thinking about it and taking time to cope with facing this fear of mine I decided to finally put a name to it. I am Jade Capua, and I am a survivor. Thank you.