You talked about Catholicism with my mother while sexually violating me. Therefore, I know you've been told that everyone is a child of God and every human has inherent dignity, yet you clearly never took that to heart, because you saw me, a literal child of God, as an object you could use to make yourself feel more powerful.
date of testimony: January 17th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at time of first abuse: 11
age at time of testimony: 18
[testimony given via video link]
I guess pretty much explaining that it’s through camera because I started my second semester at Boston College, and I will be reading a statement that my mother wrote as well which I think is important because she was in the room, so the first part of my statement — I’ll differentiate between the two, but I’ll be speaking in third person for some of it because it’s my mother’s statement.
MS. JONES: [reading mother’s statement] In February 2011 my 11 year old daughter was in extreme pain and couldn’t bend her back at all. I took her to see Larry Nassar under the advice of her gymnastics coaches. Little did I know that the extreme pain she was in back in 2011 would not even compare to the pain she’s experienced over the past six years.
We had multiple appointments with Nassar. I would have to leave work early, drive to her school, pick her up, and drive an hour to Michigan State. I can’t imagine what my daughter must have felt sitting in the back seat of the car — yes, she wasn’t even old enough to sit in the front seat — the anguish of knowing that your mother is driving to an appointment to get sexually assaulted, the anguish of being that mother who sat in a chair while her daughter was assaulted.
Let me tell you a little bit about what our life has been like because of what Larry Nassar did to my daughter. A once happy, determined little girl became depressed and disinterested but still struggled with her desire to succeed which lead to even more frustration. She was just 12 years old when she first expressed suicidal thoughts. If you’ve ever tried to get a young girl proper mental health care, you would know it’s almost impossible.
Have you ever been on the phone with someone, telling them that you need help to keep your daughter alive, and resource after resource turns you away? Have you ever bought a safe to keep the knives, medicine, and other dangerous objects away from your daughter, and as you walk around your house you realize how fruitless your efforts may be because there’s just too many ways to kill yourself if you really want to?
Have you ever received a phone call from your daughter having to weigh the decision of going to pick her up when she’s having a panic attack to the point where all you can hear is someone trying to catch their breath, but you have to weigh the decision on whether or not to pick her up or making her stay so the fight or flight response doesn’t get worse?
Have you ever had to call the police because you don’t know where your daughter is and you fear the worst? Have you ever gone into your teenage daughter’s room and stood over her bed to make sure she’s still breathing?
For years we had no idea why our daughter was having such internal turmoil. It wasn’t until September 2016 when I read the IndyStar article that I knew why.
As crazy as it may sound, it was almost a relief to finally understand why our daughter was having these disturbing feelings. However, I was still in shock and horrified when I heard her describe in graphic detail to Detective Lieutenant Andrea Munford exactly what happened during those appointments, those 45 to 60 minute appointments over and over again, when she was just 11 years old.
The penalty for first degree criminal sexual conduct against an individual less than 13 years old is a minimum of 25 years to a maximum of life in prison. Including my daughter, there are three victims in this trial under the age of 13 at the time which would bring us to a minimum of 75 years excluding the other four victims. However, the plea deal sets a range of 25 to 40 years. The plea deal was important for these victims because they want to hear Larry Nassar admit his guilt. They don’t want anyone else to be sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, and they want to be able to move forward with their lives.
My daughter is a talented, smart, athletic, funny, beautiful young woman with a kind heart and a lot to live for. She’s truly an amazing gift from God who should be treasured, not violated. Please help give comfort to her, the other victims, and their families by sentencing Larry Nassar to the maximum of 40 years which cannot be appealed.
This is my statement now.
Larry Nassar and I both agree that he is guilty of seven counts of sexual assault against underaged girls including myself at age 11 for his own gratification. Because knowing that Larry will spend the rest of his life in jail does not make up for the hell I’ve been living since I was 11 years old, I urge the court today to impose the maximum sentence possible.
Society may sometimes see a single death as a tragedy and a million deaths as a statistic, but I urge every person here today to think of each woman affected by Nassar’s actions as a human being with inherent dignity whose life was ruined by a man who manipulated their trust.
I stand before the court today not as a victim or a statistic but as a woman with goals, ambitions, and dreams made significantly more difficult to achieve given the severe trauma I’ve suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar.
During this trial I was referred to as victim B, but my name is Madeleine Jones. I am currently 18 years old and I was a gymnast for 13 years. When I was 11 I saw Larry Nassar for back pain because I was told that he was the gymnastic doctor.
In every appointment my mother sat directly in front of me and in every appointment, as I had to testify in front of strangers, Larry Nassar sexually assaulted me by penetrating me vaginally and anally without gloves, lubricant, or consent. Before every appointment I cried in the bathroom and after every appointment I couldn’t wait to get home to shower because I always left his office feeling so dirty, yet no amount of showers after my appointments with Larry made me feel clean at all.
Larry, you know what you did to me, but what you don’t know is how it affected me. You talked quite a bit about Catholicism in your life.
You talked about Catholicism with my mother while sexually violating me. Therefore, I know you’ve been told that everyone is a child of God and every human has inherent dignity, yet you clearly never took that to heart, because you saw me, a literal child of God, as an object you could use to make yourself feel more powerful.
Larry, in your quest to selfishly fulfill your own desires and make yourself powerful, you took away my power, my self worth, my emotional development, my happiness, and my innocence. I was 11 years old, Larry. I was just beginning to develop my sense of self and you took away the little substance I had for myself.
Because of you, I have tried to commit suicide. During a suicide attempt I walked out of my bedroom to my hallway, accepted that I was going to die and thought to myself, I’m not waking up tomorrow morning, and I felt this overwhelming sense of relief because I finally didn’t have to live thinking my life didn’t mean anything. I was confused on how I managed to live through these dark episodes for a long time, but now I understand that I lived because I am meant to live. I am meant to be happy, and I need to be alive in order to put abusers like you in jail.
Because of you, I have numerous self harm scars all over my body because I wanted my outside to look just as ugly as you made my inside feel, and because it’s easier to deal with a vein being sliced open with blood dripping down your elbow than it is to deal with a sexual assault.
Because of you, I have been in and out of therapy since eighth grade when I wrote a note to my gymnastic coaches saying I had no idea what the point of living is.
Because of you, my family had to spend their time, energy, and money to get me to therapy appointments, psychiatrist appointments, and proper medication to manage my post-traumatic symptoms.
Because of you, my brothers have spoken a handful of words to me in just under three years because your actions and my symptoms made me someone that they didn’t recognize and they were scared for.
Because of you, I still wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks due to severe nightmares, and now that I’m in college, I wake my roommate up too.
Because of you, I have spent countless hours praying under a cross begging for God to put me out of my misery.
Because of you, I have had to endure the massive adjustment of college life while carrying through the crippling stress of this court case and my trauma.
Because of you, I’ve told my mother that I would have rather you murdered me because at times it feels like it’s easier to be dead than bring myself back from the complete dehumanization you put me through.
But you know what, Larry? Because of me I’m about to start my second semester at Boston College as a biology major on the pre-med track.
Because of me, I’m going to be a better doctor than you could have ever dreamed of being.
Because of me, I am fixing all the damage you did to me.
Because of me, I am strong, I’m fierce, and I’m resilient. Because of me, you’re going to jail for the rest of your life.
Larry, when you pray the rosary, I want you to remember the story of Lucifer’s fall from grace.
The devil didn’t want God to create humans in his image and likeness or with free will. The devil felt as though humans weren’t deserving and they would commit atrocious acts.
Larry, remember that you proved the devil right. Remember that you were born in the image and likeness of God and you chose to sexually assault little girls. To call you a monster isn’t even the right word. You’re a human being and you chose to do this. You chose your actions and you chose to sexually assault little girls.
No matter what you do with the rest of your life, your actions will always be evidence to the devil’s argument. You used Catholicism to manipulate people into believing you are a pious human being.
Never forget, it does not matter whether or not people believe your remorse, what matters is God gave you the gift of life and you chose to abuse little girls.
I do not believe Larry Nassar is in any way remorseful for his actions. I have no doubt that if given the opportunity to offend again, he would not hesitate. He is a danger to society, functioning only for his own benefit. Larry Nassar should never be let out of prison. It doesn’t matter how many rosaries he prays, how many inmates he supposedly helps, or how much people implore that he’s a changed man, Larry Nassar is not apologetic for assaulting me. He’s only sorry he was caught for it. Please impose the maximum sentence possible.
THE COURT: Thank you so much for your words. Before I talk for a minute I need to ask you and your family, your mother and father, if you are asking for restitution from defendant. Restitution will make you finally whole. It will not fix the emotions, but there’s a lot of counseling you’ve yet to do and a lot of work that costs money. I don’t know if he has any money or if he’ll get money, but if he does, I can impose restitution, so that if you all present bills, he will be ordered to pay them.
Anything he would dispute I would decide what a reasonable amount is. I don’t know that he’s in a position to dispute anything presented but certainly I can make that decision. I would decide. Are you asking for restitution? Would you like to address that or would your parents like to address that or both?
MS. JONES: I would really appreciate restitution. I have been in therapy for over five years now and I still have a lot of therapy to go and it’s very expensive.
THE COURT: All right. Restitution is so ordered. We will leave it open. All I need is for you and your family to collect those bills and continue to provide them, and as to an amount, I’m simply going to leave it open and the amount will simply grow unless there is — and will be charged as it’s presented unless it is disputed by defendant, and in that event we would have a restitution hearing. Is that acceptable?
MS. JONES: Yes. Thank you.
THE COURT: Mom, is that acceptable?
MRS. JONES: Yes.
THE COURT: Dad?
MR. JONES: Yes.
THE COURT: All right. Thank you.
First of all, you talk about the importance of defendant admitting his guilt. That is important, and I know it is important to all of the survivors.
However, I have to say more important is your loud voices, your very strong army of voices. It’s not just the survivor victims who were his patients but all of the families coming together in the community, and that is huge. That will make a difference.
You mentioned seven counts where he pled actually guilty to. In fact, when I add up all of the times, the years that he assaulted you, the other survivors, I don’t know, my calculator says it’s probably thousands of counts, because prosecutors usually charge each incident separately, and I look at that and consider it, it is literally thousands of criminal sexual conduct charges that could have been before this court, in addition to numerous other crimes that were committed. So I really appreciate you being here, and it sends a strong message, again, to this court and to the world.
Your goals, ambitions, dreams will be a reality. I am hoping that you have jumped over and passed that suicidal urge. You’re not the first person to talk about it, and even those people who have not mentioned it, those survivors who have not mentioned it I suspect it’s crossed their mind. But what I want to say to you is what I said to another survivor who said something similar about suicide, and that is, if suicide is something you still consider ever, understand that that makes him win, and you know all about as an athlete winning and losing. Stay the winner. Stay with us. Keep fighting, working hard. He cannot win if you do that. You get stronger while he gets weaker.
Suicide is never, ever the answer.
If you were in this courtroom you would see, as your parents do, all of the love and support that you have here, and I know that there’s a feed around the world and there is an immeasurable number of people who also support you and want you to stay with us here.
I am certain your family has told you that.
Sometimes the magic of a robe works, so I want you to know that I think that you’re valuable and I want you to be here, and suicide is not the answer.
I also want you to know, because you’re also not the only victim who’s mentioned about how you feel dirty and how showers are not sufficient.
If there was an order that I could put in place for all of you victims, survivors, I would order you to be reborn and clean. It’s not your fault, and so if it helps any, as I’m sitting here in this robe, I am ordering that you feel clean, that you feel renewed — do we want to get her back? Let’s go off the record.
So, ma’am, I am, for what it’s worth, ordering that you are reborn and clean, that all survivors are reborn and clean. Put the past in back of you. You want me to sign that order, I’m happy to do it so you can look at it every single day, mount it in your shower if you need to, but, ma’am, this was done without your permission, without your knowledge. You were too young even if you did give permission. It’s a crime. You had no fault in what happened, and I want to promise you and your family, he will not see the light of day unless it is behind bars. Predators, serial predators have a place in our prisons permanently, and he is one of those.
I don’t know if that helps you sleep better, but your voice, being part of this voice of an army saying no more, hopefully does help you sleep better, and I’m so very proud of you for coming forward even at this distance through technology. You are loud and clear in this courtroom, but, more important, loud and clear in your message and your family’s message. I couldn’t be prouder of you and your family.
Your parents are standing here, although still visibly upset by all of this, proud and in support of you and justice.
On behalf of the parents, is there anything you wanted to add to your letters or say to your daughter long distance here.
MRS. JONES: Hi, Madeleine.
MS. JONES: Hello, mom. Hi, dad.
THE COURT: So reach out and touch them. Telecom in the courtroom — or polycom, I guess. All right. So good luck in school.
MS. JONES: Thank you, Your Honor.