date of testimony: January 17th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of first abuse: 15
statement given by her mother Gina Nichols
Maggie did not want to be here today. It’s too painful. She did become public as of last week, and although she did report her abuse in 2015 to USA Gymnastics, she just became public last week, and this is really difficult for her because she is a full-time student and she’s training as a full-time athlete still for the University of Oklahoma, so to have to deal with becoming public and all the pressure and what’s happening with her, it was just too much, so I am going to read the statement that she put out to the public. Everybody probably already read about it. I’m going to read it again because she didn’t want to add anything to that, and then I have a few things as a parent and mother I would like to say.
Recently three of my former national team members who medaled in the 2012 Olympics -— and now another one, because Simone Biles, her very best friend, became public the other day as well — have bravely stepped forward to proclaim they were sexually assaulted by US team — I’m not going to say doctor — Larry Nassar, by Larry Nassar. Today I join them. I am making the decision to tell my traumatic story and hope to join the forces of my friends and teammates to bring about true change.
Up until now I was identified as athlete A by USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee, and Michigan State University, and I want everyone to know that he did not do this to athlete A, he did it to Maggie Nichols.
In the summer of 2015 my coach and I reported this abuse to USA Gymnastics leadership. I first started gymnastics when I was three, and since I was a child, I always had the dream of competing for my country in the Olympic games. I made elite level when I was 13 years old and by the time I was 14 I was on the USA national team. I traveled internationally for four plus years attending competitions all over the world representing our country, and in 2015 I competed at the world championships representing our country once again.
People who watch gymnastics see girls fly through the air and do all kinds of amazing things, and you can imagine that having a good doctor is absolutely necessary to compete at the highest levels. Doctor Larry Nassar was regarded throughout the sport as the very best by coaches and staff throughout the gymnastics community.
The first time I met Doctor Larry Nassar I was about 13 or 14 years old and I was receiving treatment for an elbow injury, and at the time it seemed like he knew exactly what he was doing with the therapy he gave me. Initially he did nothing unusual.
But when I was 15 and I started to have back problems right at the national team training camp at the Karolyi Ranch, this is when things changed in the medical treatments that occurred. My back was really hurting me and I couldn’t even bend down, and I remember he took me into the training room, closed the door, locked it, closed the blinds, and at the time I thought this was kind of weird but figured it must be okay. I thought he probably didn’t want to distract the other girls, and I trusted him.
I trusted what he was doing at first but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on. He didn’t have gloves on. He didn’t tell me what he was doing, and there was no one else in the room, and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by the adults in charge at the USA Olympic training center that I should receive help from him. He did this treatment, quote, unquote, on me maybe five or six — or multiple times.
Not only was Larry Nassar my doctor, I thought he was my friend. He contacted me on Facebook complimenting and telling me how beautiful I was. Looking — and contacted me on numerous occasions, but I was only 15 and I thought he was just trying to be nice to me. Now I believe this was all part of the grooming process that I’ve learned about.
One day at practice I was talking to my teammate who everybody knows now to be Aly Raisman and brought up Doctor Nassar and his treatments.
When I was talking to her my coach overheard, and I had never told another coach — I had never told my coach about these treatments, and after hearing our conversation she asked me more questions about it and said it doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem right at all.
I showed her the Facebook messages and told her what Nassar was doing. My coach thought it was very, very wrong so she did the right thing and reported it immediately to USA Gymnastics.
Okay. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee did not provide a safe environment for me and my teammates and friends to train. We were subjected to Doctor Larry Nassar at every national team training camp which occurred monthly at the Karolyi Ranch. His job is to care for our health and our injuries and, instead, he violated our innocence.
I have come to the realization that my voice now can be heard and have influence over the manner in which our USA athletes are treated.
Throughout everything that has happened, my faith in God has sustained me. I would like everyone to know that I’m doing okay. My strong faith has helped me endure. It is a work in progress, and I will strive to ensure the safety of young athletes who have big dreams just like mine, and I’ll encourage them to stand up and speak out if something doesn’t seem right.
I want to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart that have helped me through this difficult time; my parents, coaches, and friends who have known and have stood by my side. I would not have been here — been able to get through this and be this strong without each and every one of you. That’s the statement she put out when she became public last week, and I have a little bit more to say as a parent.
THE COURT: You may.
MS. NICHOLS: As a parent and a health care professional — I’ve been a registered nurse for 35 years, and my husband, by the way, is a doctor, and you know what my husband is? A real doctor. A real doctor that treats children and helps them to get better, not to hurt them like you have to hundreds of people.
You disgraced yourself by calling yourself a doctor to the medical community. A real doctor never sees a child alone in a room and does procedures on them. A real doctor has an adult present when working with a child. A real doctor gets parental consent. A real doctor never, under any circumstances, were to touch a child in their genital or anal area.
A real doctor, if he would need to be in private parts, would wear gloves. A real doctor would explain every single thing he is doing to the child with their — with the parent or an adult with them.
A real doctor, as I said before, helps heal. He doesn’t hurt. You actually are not a real doctor. You’re not a doctor at all. You’re a serial child molester, a pedophile.
My husband is a real doctor. He has never done the procedure to a child in his entire career.
Funny, the procedure that you were doing to all these children nobody else seems to do. My husband has taken care of all the same injuries that all these athletes that you have taken care of had and has never once had to do any form of procedure on them, and guess what? They all got better. They all get better. They didn’t need your procedure. There’s no such thing as your procedure.
My daughter was at the Olympic Training Center one week a month for years. We sent a child across the country to train to try and make — to be on the USA team and represent our country — a child — and she was not protected whatsoever.
Multiple people failed her. We never once by Larry Nassar, when apparently he was seeing and treating all these children, which most of them were children under the age of 18, we never once got a phone call from him at our hometown in Minnesota to let us know that he needed to do a procedure, meaning could I give — get consent over the phone. We never gave him parental consent. She was alone with you in exam rooms and didn’t understand what you were doing, and you didn’t even wear gloves. Gross. You put your fingers in people’s vaginas and rectums with no gloves? That’s gross. It’s disgusting. Nobody does that.
Lastly, shame on MSU, USAG, and the United States Olympic Committee for this gross and inexcusable negligence for allowing this pedophile to flourish for this long and for all these poor victims to be abused. They and every one of the people who enabled this are responsible for this. It wasn’t just Larry. It was all the people. All the people, including USA Gymnastics, and I see that you’re representing them there. They’re accountable. They are accountable, and I don’t want to hear any more statements from everybody else, we’re doing this and we’re doing that. We have a safer place now. It’s too late now. That’s fine, we need to make a safer place, but all the people at USAG and MSU and United States Olympic Committee who covered it up and allowed this negligence and abuse to happen to children are responsible, and they have to take responsibility for it.
THE COURT: Ma’am, I want you to know that you have been heard. By being in this court it’s not just that your words are forever on this record and in front of me in consideration for sentencing but really the world is watching. You have been heard.
I want Maggie to know that you represented her very, very well here. I also want her to know that Maggie represented the USA very well today with her words, and for all other athletes, because we cannot undo what happened. We can’t make it better, but we can have a better future for our children, and your voices are so important in that.
Nassar was not the very best doctor. He was the very best liar, and that is ringing through in every victim’s statement, and I want you to know that that has also been heard. He didn’t just violate Maggie’s innocence and all of our trust, but he robbed her of that and her childhood, and I recognize that.
I also want you to be assured that this defendant will have a real sentence behind bars where he can do no more harm, and I want to thank you for your loud voice on behalf of your daughter, your family, and all of the survivor victims.
MS. NICHOLS: Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you so much for being here.
MS. NICHOLS: Thank you for having me.