I'm a middle school teacher and I teach 12, 13, and 14 year old kids every day. And every single day when I look at them I am faced with the reality of how young and defenseless we were when Larry molested us.
date of testimony: January 17th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
[with coach Thomas Brennan]
I want to thank you for all that you’ve done here, allowing us to be here, submit letters, videos, speak here in person. You’ve given us a voice, a chance to be a part of a — a part of this process when MSU and USA Gymnastics and, realistically, Larry’s own lawyers deny responsibility for what they have done to us.
You, however, have validated our betrayal or abuse, our heartbreak, and our devasation because of his actions. And I thank you not only for myself but for all of us.
I remember getting my coffee the morning it hit the news. I remember because I never have the t.v. on in the morning but that morning I had a little extra time and I flipped on the news. I remember them describing Larry, and before they even said his name, just by his description I knew. I knew that his picture was about to pop up on the screen, and then it did.
My heart sank. I watched as they mentioned a questionable procedure and my heart sank even more. I knew that procedure. He had done that procedure to me. And I remember thinking, hum-um, no, no, no, no, no, no way, this can’t be happening. This can’t be real. He couldn’t have been molesting us. It can’t be real. They have to be wrong. Something must be wrong.
I remember not being able to focus clearly on anything, so much so I remember my students asking me if I was okay, because it was obvious that I was in a daze. See, I’m a middle school teacher and I teach 12, 13, and 14 year old kids every day. And every single day when I look at them I am faced with the reality of how young and defenseless we were when Larry molested us. I look at them every single day — I look at them every single day and I think to myself, I am their safe place. I am their protector. I’m their fighter. I am their encouragement. I am their motivator. I am their rock. They’re more to me than my students, they’re my kids. They trust me every single day to look out for their best interest, and I take that very seriously, and that’s exactly how I felt as a middle schooler when I was with Larry. He was going to make sure my injuries were healed because he was my doctor. He was my encouragement, my motivation, and what I believed was my safe place to speak the truth about how much pain I was really in. To know now that he took those beliefs, he took that trust and used it to molest not only myself but over 140 young girls is something I still can’t comprehend. I still can’t think about it without crying. We were just kids. We were just kids.
I remember meeting with my former coach Tom — this is Tom — about what was going on with Larry in the news. I was trying to come up with a way to defend Larry so that it couldn’t be true and it wouldn’t be true. It just could not be true. Not Larry.
I remember the heartbreak on his face when I told him that I had had the procedure done a couple times. I remember him asking if Larry used gloves.
And if you’re wondering, the answer is no. No, he did not use gloves. And, yes, I remember because I still remember the feeling of his hands. I still remember flinching from his touch, and I still remember him saying, it’s okay. I know you’re not used to being touched there but it will feel better.
I remember that exact moment I realized I had been molested by somebody I trusted, that I was one of the gymnasts he had abused, and my life was never going to be the same, and that it was true.
MR. BRENNAN: Look at her.
THE DEFENDANT: I’ve been looking at her.
MS. ANDERSON: I realized I was one of the gymnasts he had abused and my life was never going to be the same. I remember seeing the devastation on Tom’s face when I said, no, that he hadn’t worn gloves, and I remember Tom taking a minute to collect his thoughts and process — collect his thoughts and proceed by saying how sorry he was because, see, Tom was one of my coaches. Like all of our coaches, he was our protector. They are our fighters and our encouragement, and our coaches are like our family, and they couldn’t protect us from him. They couldn’t protect us from him, and it isn’t their fault, and they know that, and we know that, but it doesn’t take away the hurt, the betrayal, and the devastation that we all feel because of him.
I remember crying to my parents over the reality of the situation and I remember the heartache in their voices. See, my mom was in the room when he did it. She had taken me there. She had no idea what he was doing. How could she? He was so precise in where he stood and how he positioned his body.
She was in denial about Larry in the beginning, too, like most of us. She even wrote him on Facebook and Larry responded with how innocent he was, and I quote, I keep praying for the truth to be revealed and for the goodness to come to light. I am strong in my faith in God, and with the love and support of my friends and family I will overcome this. Well, God has shown the truth, and you will face him one day.
That was my mom’s moment of clarity when the pornography broke. That was the moment of her devastation and the moment of truth of reality what was going on.
You might wonder why I remember all of this like it was yesterday, and the answer is because I live with this internal conversation every single day. I relive these memories and these moments every single day. I no longer have the luxury of going through life with rose covered glasses to the deplorable, disgusting reality test of the world.
I look at my two sons, my two beautiful boys, who I love more than anything in the world, and I think about the things that I can’t do anymore and the things that they won’t ever get to do because of my fears, my fears that someone I trust or they trust is going to hurt them, hurt them in a way that you can never erase or forget, in a way that leaves a mark on your soul, a mark that will be there for the rest of your life.
But that mark is not a mark that’s going to define who I am. I stand here today not only to tell you my story but to show the kids behind me and the ones that can’t be here today that this will not define us. What he did to us is not going to define who we are. He’s going to sit in jail for the rest of his life. We, on the other hand, are going to move forward. We are going to live our best lives because we are fighters and we are strong and we overcome impossible odds because that’s what we were trained to do and that’s — because that’s — and because that’s what we know how to do, because we are gymnasts.
And I wanted to end by saying that I have seriously struggled with the decision to allow myself to be recorded and shown in public because I was scared that my students would see me at my weakest moment. They would see me as a victim. But I realized — but I’ve come to realize that this moment is not my weakest moment. That this is my moment of strength. This is my close — sorry, this is my time to close a chapter of being a victim and open my chapter of being a survivor, and that standing here today facing the man who molested me as a child and share my story is my time. I decided to let the media know my name, my face, and my story because I want my two boys to stand — sorry. I want my two boys to see their mom stand up for what she knows is right, and I want my students to see that I am doing what I encourage them to do every day, which is being the change you want to see in this world, and I want to see that this never happens to anyone again and that those responsible are held accountable, and being here today and telling my story is part of that change. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you so much for your words. I agree, this is not your weakest moment. It is your strongest moment, but it is also your most important moment, because as that role model for your students and for the world you also are telling them that they can speak up and you’re teaching them the best lesson in life, no means no. That always goes unrecognized by predators, and I always say this, and if you haven’t been in my — and you haven’t been in my courtroom so you haven’t heard it, but I always say that God put N and O in the alphabet for a reason together, it spells no. Use it.
You win by healing while he disintegrates, and that’s exactly what will happen.
I know that you started out thanking me and I think all of the victims have thanked me, but I want you to know that I don’t need thanks. I am just doing my job. I always try to do the right thing, and you all have loud voices and I’ve heard them, but I wanted to hear them.
When I met with the lawyers and they approached saying, would you even think of a plea, I said only if there’s a global resolution where all the victims, regardless of who they are associated with, this case or not, anyone associated with this predator could come before me and testify because it is a global resolution and I want to hear globally all the voices, and you’ve been part of that, and I’m so honored that you came here today, that you decided to reveal yourself, because there is nothing more important in your healing and in stopping predators in every form. I’m honored that you’re in my courtroom.
Thank you. I don’t deserve the thanks. You do. And just for the record, since you spoke out, Tom, could you tell me your last name and spell it?
MR. BRENNAN: Last name is B-r-e-n-n-a-n.
THE COURT: And formally it’s Thomas?
MR. BRENNAN: Thomas. For the record, go to hell.
THE COURT: Anything else you’d like to say?
MR. BRENNAN: Me?
THE COURT: You. You’re here, sir. You spoke out. I’m allowing you an opportunity. You seem to have a few things you want to say. I think the world probably wants to hear and so do I.
MR. BRENNAN: I have a different relationship with Larry from the standpoint that I was a coach for many years. I’m also a physiologist.
When I graduated from grad school he was an advisor of mine. He’s been a mentor of mine. I’ve done clinics with him for years in the past. And I have probably sent well over a hundred kids to him over the years. So the guilt I feel for that is hard to fathom.
So he didn’t only deceive these girls, which is — honest to God that’s the worst of the worst, what he did to these girls, so they have the voice, but what you did to everybody else who trusted you and sent girls your way is disgusting.
Reprehensible. Unforgiveable. That’s all I got to say.
THE COURT: Sir, thank you very much for speaking up. I hear that guilt that you feel and probably so many referrals to him have the same voice, sentiment that you do, but, again, I truly appreciate there not being any blame on anyone. You should not take the blame as well. There is no girl who was assaulted who’s blaming you or anybody else. Thankfully, the blame lies solely with defendant.
MR. BRENNAN: Um-hum. I’m getting that. I appreciate you letting me speak.
THE COURT: Thank you, sir.
MR. BRENNAN: It’s more about her.
THE COURT: I understand.