date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
Dear Judge Aquilina, until just a few short months ago I vowed to myself at the beginning of this nightmare that I would never step foot into a courtroom with this man or any part of this awful circumstance.
However, in November when I sat at home with my hands shaking while watching the live feed in the first hearing you presided over I heard the most interesting, powerful words come from your mouth. You said that you wanted every girl to heal and you would let us take as long as we needed to all come forward and speak out. That gave me the courage to face the fact that I was abused by Larry Nassar at the Michigan State University Sports Medicine Clinic for many years as I came to him for medical help for my gymnastics injuries.
I decided I wanted to have the courage to step forward and fully have this experience today so that I could heal and gain freedom and have closure from this confusing chapter of my life. So, first of all, I want to thank you for having the foresight and the compassion to make this happen for all of us today.
THE COURT: You’re welcome. It’s so very important that you’re here and that your voice be heard and it is part of the healing, and I recognize that in all cases I allow victims to speak and allow the time needed. You are healing. You being in this courtroom, being able to face the demons, it’s so important, and I just thank you so much for having the strength and courage to be here.
What else would you like me to know?
For those of you here listening today, I am remaining anonymous because that gives me the peace of mind that I need right now, but as I stand here before you, Larry Nassar, I know that I am not anonymous to you. You once knew me so well. You knew my voice, my face, my body in ways that you should have never been allowed to know. You knew everything about me.
Up until just a few years ago you were a confidant. You were my close friend who always had my best interests in mind, whether it is about my injuries, my eating habits, my gymnastics practices, school choices, college decisions, career path, and all the way up to my family plans. I know now that this is one of the surefire signs of a friendly sexual predator. I know now that the word grooming is a bad word, a word that I should never had to research as an adult woman.
When I was young I did not recognize that the grooming you were up to for more than a decade with me was to manipulate me to allow yourself further access to my body, to take advantage of me for your own selfish pleasure. Even though I tried to stop you many times, you continually established trust with me so you could continue to hurt me. I had no idea that you took my love for gymnastics and my desire to stay out of pain and you used it against me. I sometimes think if I can tell my younger self how much I was loved and valued when I was only 14 and when it all began while receiving treatment from Larry Nassar, then maybe I would have never been tricked into a friendship and support from a doctor that I thought really cared about my well-being with all of his heart. But that is not the case here because it wouldn’t have mattered in what state of confidence I ever was because he was a master at manipulating the situation to feed his selfish addiction of taking advantage of me any time he could.
I completely trusted him 150 percent. I never questioned why he always asked the nurses or residents to leave the room even though he was known as a teaching doctor and it would have made much more sense for them to stay in the room to learn his techniques. But those techniques were a facade to feed his addiction, and because of that, I have dealt with questioning every person that I have ever met. I questioned that they had true intentions, and I never learned to really trust the actual trustworthy people in my life.
I am not confused any longer about his intentions. I now understand that he had a lifetime career of hurting that he disguised as wanting to genuinely help. I might believe that he could have had an ounce of good to his soul because I knew him so well, but he let his sinful and selfish desires take over his soul and his whole existence and he fell into the trap of extreme selfishness, not just for the hundreds of instances he took advantage of me but for so many other gymnasts, women, and girls.
Although his actions have affected my whole life and especially my health and my confidence, I am choosing to move forward and choosing to use the awful pain of this to grow stronger as a woman and daughter of God.
First Peter 5:10 says, And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his internal glory in Christ, he himself will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
I did, however, deal with a sense of guilt only due to the fact that I previously thought that if I would have spoken up more or louder then somebody would have listened at Michigan State University. But I did tell a coach while on my gymnastics team at MSU and Kathie chose to put Larry’s name, her identity, and the university’s reputation above the choice to protect me. My concerns and fears were minimized by those in authority positions at MSU, but now I don’t have to carry that guilt any longer. I was child. I did my best, and I did speak up. Even if I said it louder or more often, it wouldn’t have mattered because we can see now that many girls and women spoke to people in authority at MSU and they were not heard.
This is so devastating. This is a miscarriage of justice. May we all learn from this that if a child ever comes to us about any type of unusual feeling coming from any adult, we will never brush them off. We will listen to their every word and we will show them that we care and that we want to help them by taking immediate action for them.
May our state, our community, and especially our university learn from this horrible sequence of mistakes that children should be protected always and at all costs.
We have to find the positive. Larry Nassar’s actions and MSU’s negligence will be the reason for a change in a society filled with secrets and confusion. Because of the brave women and girls and friends and parents and family members that are here today that have stepped forward to bring truth and light to this dark secret, we will now see a change. We will know how to recognize a person of extreme status and high caliber can also be one that causes extreme hurt and trauma and is utterly dangerous with repercussions that last a lifetime.
I believe the real tragedy here is not just that one man was extremely sinful in nature but that MSU did not have the proper checks and balances in place. They somehow managed to glorify a criminal and ignore the signs. Instead of private investigations, myself and several other girls were told by the MSU staff that we were wrong. We grew up watching MSU promote and glorify a child pedophile.
MSU enabled, paid, and promoted him to live out these terrible acts. We were repeatedly shut down with our attempts of stopping this man.
As I am now a mother, I can say that there is absolutely no excuse for this. Regardless of how insignificant a child’s plea for help may have seemed by MSU, I don’t understand how this history could have went on for more than two decades. These are the answers that I demand. This is the change that needs to happen right here in our community so that growth will happen at other institutions. If all of us survivors’ pain and suffering prevents and protects other children, then it will not be wasted.
I have freedom not to be afraid anymore. I will be free from the chains of control from a man that will never have access to me or any girl ever again. And I am free from worrying what will happen to Larry Nassar. His actions have caught up to him and God will deal with him now for what he sees best.
I believe he needs the maximum sentence for his actions and so that future predators will remember this story and choose to stop violating children and get help. The truth is out and we can use this truth to overcome evil and make sure these things will never happen again.
For all of those that covered for him, enabled him, or turned the other way while I saw him at Michigan State University, I hope your actions will come to light and you can come out with the truth to make our university and community a safer place for children and women. And if you choose not to, I know at some point your actions, too, will catch up with you. Our God is a just God and he will bring mercy and healing to all of us that need it.
With God there’s always hope.
Revelations 21, four through five says, he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of this thing has passed away. He who is seated on the thrown said, I am making everything new. Then he said, write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.
THE COURT: Thank you very much. Your voice and that voice of explaining grooming, so important. Young women are listening all over the world and you’re opening up their vocabulary and awareness and, of course, that’s why you’re here and chose to speak, and I really appreciate that, because that is not just part of your healing but protection of others. You will be stronger every single day as defendant gets weaker, and you can rest assured knowing that, and I think your message is especially important because if I take your words together, what I hear is that you are asking that people, especially children, come before sports and that the people, especially the children, are not a backseat in sports but a front seat consideration before anything else, and it shouldn’t be just in sports but in all life, but, of course, we know here defendant was a sports doctor — I don’t want to use the term, I know it upsets everyone, he’s no longer a doctor but at that point. And this cry that you made for checking on safety is very important. To put a system in place, to ensure protection against any abuse, sexual or otherwise from wherever it comes from, there needs to be a check, and you’re right, from every physician, coach, trainer, the janitor, it doesn’t really matter, and I think your voice is so very, very thought out and well meaning, because it looks not just at healing but at resolution, so thank you for being here and for speaking out.
VICTIM 55: You’re welcome. Thank you.