date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
When given the opportunity to speak in front of this courtroom I was at first hesitant. I wondered how this might affect my future, my career, the loved ones in my life. I took a step back and realized that, once again, I was letting the fear, the shame, and the guilt own me.
I decided it was time to stand up to Larry Nassar and to those that enabled him to continue down this ravaging path of sexual abuse. Today I am here for me and to be an advocate for the women and young girls whose voices have been silenced for so many years.
I remember the first time Larry Nassar sexually assaulted me. It is not something easily forgotten, the intense sense of terror, anxiety, and disbelief came washing over me. I lay there in pain unable to speak, staring blankly at the wall, desperately searching for a way to escape.
I kept repeating in my head, this is a mistake, this isn’t real. I thought, he’s a famous doctor, there’s no way he would do something inappropriate in front of my mom. Well, I was wrong. He used his power and position in society to earn our trust so that he could use us for his own sexual pleasure and gratification.
These, quote, treatments happened over and over again, eating away at my innocence as a child.
I was just a young girl with big dreams. Aspiring to be the best figure skater I could be. This is what I received in return for my dedication to the sport. A sport that I loved so much, tarnished with vile memories. I’m not sure I could even ever look at figure skating the same again, which is a shame because the sport essentially defined who I was as a child.
I have always struggled with intimacy in relationships because of what Larry Nassar did to me. I have vivid flashbacks of him assaulting me. Sometimes I can’t even tolerate another person touching me in an intimate situation without feeling physical pain and experiencing these visual flashbacks. I’m in the room again, on that table, reliving these events to this day.
I feel disgusting. I find it hard to trust not only those I have been in intimate relationships with, but also those in positions of power. I wonder who might betray me next? Because if he could pull this off, then who’s to stop anyone else from hurting me, too.
I have poor self-esteem and I experience frequent episodes of anxiety and depression. When I see someone that looks or sounds like him, my heart races, just like it does before I have one of my beloved panic attacks. Sometimes I feel a sense of guilt because somehow I wonder if it was my fault that all of this happened?
Relationships with my family members have suffered especially since all of this has become public. The nightmares about what he’s done have haunted me night after night.
As I sat down to write a statement, I asked myself, how can I put this horrific experience into words? There are no words for this.
Despite these unfortunate events, I wanted to be clear that I will continue to overcome this. I will grow as a person. I will succeed in my career, and my family will flourish because his facade has been broken. I am in charge now.
It has been hard accepting what Larry Nassar did to me. I’m angry and I’m sad, but I will not be silenced anymore. I encourage the court to enforce a minimum sentence of 40 years up to the maximum allowable sentence in prison. It is imperative to show our society that sexual abuse will not be tolerated, and that we value the importance of bringing proper justice to those who have suffered by the actions of others.
But we cannot stop here. Those who have enabled Larry Nassar in his general and high lifestyle need to answer to us as well. Michigan State University must take accountability for their absence in putting an end to this abuse scandal.
MSU recently stated that no one affiliated with their university, quote, believed that Nassar sexually abused anyone until the news articles in 2016. Well, there’s a difference between not believing and something seeming unbelievable. Either way, they had the knowledge of the abuse, and their duty was to report it and take action. If this had been appropriately addressed, I wouldn’t be here talking to you today.
Something has gone severely wrong at MSU. They have ignored us and their lack of action shows us that they stand behind a serial sexual abuser. I had higher expectations for my alma mater.
Until then, we will do our best to heal, but I’m afraid for the safety of future students and athletes if MSU does not take ownership in their part to this story.
I hope today shed some light into the darkness that I have lived through, and I hope to give hope to those who have been through the same. I am strong, and together we are even stronger. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you. Ma’am, I appreciate your words, and you do appear to be very strong despite you acknowledging that you’re still healing, and you’ll be healing for a very long time, there’s no question, but your words are a sign that you are healing, that you’re taking your power back, that you’re giving him back his kryptonite. That he will fall and you will rise.
Sexual abuse is not tolerated in our society but it seems to be overlooked, and your message is really important, because it’s that every allegation that’s reported needs to be investigated no matter how small, and you and the other victims, now survivors, should have been taken seriously.
There should have been safeguards, and the interesting thing is, and the people in the world need to hear, that the law is very clear that if you are wrong when you report, there is — a lawsuit will be filed against you. The law — the legislature has already taken that it into consideration that if you report abuse, especially child abuse, elder abuse.
However, if you’re wrong, that’s okay, but if you’re right, we thank you, so we want people to report, and that’s really all you’re asking for, just report, believe us, investigate.
And just by your words you have, again, taken that strength to a new level. You are healing whether you feel it or not. I know it will take one time. I always wish my robe came with a magic wand so I could waive it over people and heal you. That’s in fairy tales and this isn’t one, this is a nightmare which you will wake up from it, and you have a wonderful husband by your side and family, so you’re very lucky, and thank you so much, because I am very lucky that you came to court and publicly made your statement. Thank you.
MS. SOOS: Thank you.