date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
THE COURT: All right. Jessica, are you going to speak or read?
MS. THOMASHOW: Read.
THE COURT: You’re going to read. Just read at a pace that we can understand, not too fast. There’s no fire in the building, okay?
MS. THOMASHOW: Yes.
THE COURT: Thank you. And thank you so much for being here.
Thank you. Honorable Judge Aquilina, thank you for giving me this opportunity to tell you how Larry Nassar has hurt me and the effect that this has had on my life.
I am Jessica Thomashow, also known as Victim A. I was sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar when I was nine and 12 years old. Today I am 17 and a senior in high school, and this is my story.
My childhood was filled with happiness and love. One of my loves was for gymnastics and for all my teammates in the gym. Gymnastics was a big part of my childhood, and I spent many hours in the gym and at competitions, though, as you know, with gymnastics it is a very physically demanding sport and often comes with painful injuries.
I remember one of my first injuries, a rib misplacement. This was the first time I heard of Larry Nassar and his reputation. I remember telling my mom that my coaches told me I should see Larry Nassar for my injury, and to my surprise, she knew who he was. She had trained under him when she went to medical school at Michigan State University.
One night my coaches arranged for me to see Nassar after practice to help with my rib injury.
Monday nights were when Larry Nassar came to Twistars to treat injured team gymnasts. I remember my coaches telling me to go see him, and I was actually quite excited. Then I went into the back room, and that’s when everything changed.
I was alone in the back room with him. He had me lie down on the table and he sexually assaulted me. He touched the most innocent places on my body that day.
I remember fear and pain and asking myself, what is happening? When it was over, I was so confused. What had he just done to me, and why? It was awful and embarrassing. I left and kept the disgusting thing that had just happened to me to myself.
Two years passed. I saw him several times again at his clinic at MSU, always with my mom, and they were normal appointments. Then in 2012 it happened again, right around my 12th birthday. I had a stress fracture in my ankle and my dad took me to that appointment. Before Nassar assaulted me, we had a great, meaningful conversation about my future. He asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said, I want to be just like you, a sports medicine doctor.
He gave me a gift, a pin from the Olympics, and told me, when you take my place as the new sports medicine doctor for gymnastics, then you can give me back this pin. Nassar then told my dad he had to massage my ankle and it would be okay for him to wait in the waiting room.
After he left, Nassar told the medical student to leave the room, too. After the room was cleared, he did it yet again. He slid his ungloved hand up my leg and back into the most innocent part of my body, and I felt searing pain. For 30 minutes he inserted his fingers into me and grunted while I lay there terrified.
Again I was confused by what had just happened. He was a trusted doctor and what he did to me didn’t make sense in my child’s mind. I didn’t tell a sole, and I try not to think about it anymore, but my dream of becoming a sports medicine doctor ended that day along with my happy and trusting self. He had broken me.
I lived the next several years in limbo. Being sexually assaulted has changed me into an anxious teen, but I did not know that I had been abused and that was the source of my anxiety. I no longer felt safe, and I had problems with trust.
My parents took me to a psychiatrist and a therapist when I was in ninth grade and this happened. I was diagnosed with and treated for social anxiety disorder and saw a therapist on a weekly basis but did not have insight into the cause.
In the seventh and eighth grade I felt extremely uncomfortable around my male teachers. I avoided them. I hated talking to them, and I would feel panic if I was ever alone with them in a room.
Back then I didn’t understand why I felt this way because all my peers loved our teachers, but being assaulted affected my relationship with my teachers and my anxiety was so intense that it made it hard to focus and learn at school.
I also developed an intense fear of male hands, like a PTSD response. Now I get flashbacks when I see male hands and it makes me feel scared and threatened. This fear changed the way I grew up and how I related to boys. I did not want to hold hands or ever be close to my guy friends. I couldn’t be just a normal girl anymore, and I have forever lost a big piece of my childhood due to his abuse.
When the first IndyStar article came out my life changed. I put the pieces together and realized I was molested by Larry Nassar. I thought back to my appointments with him and could still feel what my nine and 12 year old self felt then; alone, scared, and in pain. I wanted to puke. I could feel his hands touching me, and that was the first time I had my first flashback, and to this day I still have them. The flashbacks are paralyzing. I had one just two weeks ago at school and could barely get out of my seat. Thankfully I was able to stop my brain and went to the office. I cried for an hour shaking with fear.
I would like to say something to my abuser, Larry Nassar.
You took advantage of my innocence and trust. You were my doctor and I trusted you and you took complete advantage of that. Why? I used to ask myself that question all the time, especially while I was laying in bed crying myself to sleep. What you did to me was so twisted. You manipulated me and my entire family. How dare you.
You had no right to do that, and because of your decision to molest me, you have caused so much pain in my life, and for the rest of my life I’m going to have to heal from what you did.
Your Honor, I understand the plea guidelines are for a minimum sentence range of 25 to 40 years, and I ask you to give Larry Nassar a 40 year minimum to 125 year maximum sentence for what he did to me. I also ask on behalf of what he did to over a hundred other girls, we are all suffering having flashbacks, unable to have normal relationships, crying at night, feeling broken, and our lives have been forever changed. He is a predator, and he won’t be stopped unless he is behind bars for the rest of his life. Thank you.
THE COURT: Are you asking for restitution?
MS. THOMASHOW: Undecided right now.
THE COURT: Okay. I’m going to leave restitution open. I’m going to decide how long. It may be six months, it may be a year, I’m not sure.
During that time you can ask for it, and then as bills come forward, you give them to the prosecutor’s office or the crime victims office, I’m not sure how — who’s going to receive them at this point but you’ll be advised.
MS. THOMASHOW: Okay.
THE COURT: And if there’s any dispute, I’ll decide how much, but once it’s open, it will remain open during any necessary treatment, and it sounds like you had some and it will continue.
MS. THOMASHOW: Yes.
THE COURT: Let me just say that I know what you’re all asking for. This isn’t my first rodeo with this kind of situation, so to speak, but the vastness of it is very different. You are very brave, especially at 17.
MS. THOMASHOW: Thank you.
THE COURT: And you talk about being broken. Well, he’s going to break while you’re healing, and I believe that he will remain broken, more broken than he was as he committed these crimes against all of you, because only a broken person can do such a vile thing, so you need to understand that you’re strong, healthy, and you are not broken. You are strong. You’re mending.
MS. THOMASHOW: Yes.
THE COURT: And you are the voice of so many young people, and I probably will say this 90 times, 98 times, a hundred times, however many people, I can’t say it enough because it’s so important what you all are doing to come here to show victims that you’re not a victim any longer. There should be no victims. You have a voice and you are strong, so don’t let this define you.
MS. THOMASHOW: Yes.
THE COURT: Any of you. Go out and do great things in the world. You just started a great rippling effect of greatness, so I thank you for being here, and let me know what those receipts are, okay?
MS. THOMASHOW: Yes.