date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
statement read by Lindsey’s mother Ms Lemke-Akeo
When our kids were little Lindsey’s dad and I thought we made every effort to keep our kids safe from harm, but what we did not realize was that we missed what the true concern was. It wasn’t the wrong crowd or going places that they weren’t supposed to be or even using drugs or alcohol. It was something we never thought we would have to even think about, it was this man, Larry Nassar.
He was someone we completely trusted. He was our friend, our neighbor, Lindsey’s friend, and her doctor. Someone who was so well respected by everyone we never second-guessed his intentions on our daughter.
Larry had been Lindsey’s doctor since she was nine years old. He was also Lindsey’s mentor, her confidant, her employer, and he was also someone who ultimately abused her on a daily basis for many, many years, starting around the age of 10. These photos are how little she was when he began the abuse on her.
He convinced these little girls that this was a medical treatment necessary to help their injuries. He also told and convinced the little girls not to discuss this treatment with their parents because they would not understand. This treatment continued for many years. These children thought that this was the norm. He was doing it to multiple gymnasts so they all thought this was what Larry did to make them feel better.
These girls had no idea this wasn’t a medical procedure. He had always told — we always told both our kids that if anyone touches you down in your private areas, except for a doctor, to come to us immediately. She had no reason to be alarmed because he was her doctor, just as we told her. He was also someone she completely trusted, her sound board after a long, hard practice. Why would he ever want to harm her?
Our family was devastated to learn of Larry’s actions. We did not want to believe it, but it hit hard and fast. The betrayal we feel is sometimes very hard to grasp. Our daughter is scarred forever. Our son is scarred forever, and we as parents are scarred forever.
Lindsey’s dad, her brother, and I will never be the same. We trust no one. We have many sleepless nights over the guilt we feel for missing this. We never imagined that we would be those parents we all see on the news whose children were abused by someone, someone close to their family, and the parents had no idea. This is us. This is our true reality.
The guilt we feel will never go away. All the questions we think of and all the red flags we missed, it truly has been gut wrenching and will be embedded in our minds forever.
With his lack of true remorse, this is a person who will repeat his crimes. You can hear it in his statements to you and other judges that he still does not accept the damage he has done to all these kids, parents, his own family, and all that was associated with him.
Your Honor, we ask that you give this monster the longest sentence available so he never harms again. The longest sentence will give him many years in prison thinking about how many people he has hurt over the past 30 years. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you all for being here and for your words.
There is no guilt to carry. I know you all will be and are — you said that you are, but you didn’t know. The guilt would be if you did know and didn’t do anything. You didn’t know. The medical procedure is a big word that covers so much ground and, of course, your daughter being 10, she didn’t know the difference. There’s no shame. I can’t heal you, but this is a huge step.
And I’m really honored that you’re here together, especially a divorced couple unified in this for your daughter. That’s exemplary not just here but in family court where we see so many families that couldn’t come together on behalf of their children, and you two parents coming together despite whatever issues you may have had for the benefit of your daughter is exemplary on so many levels.
There’s no guilt, no shame associated with this because you have come forward, because this was not anything any of you did. No victim did anything wrong. Defendant did everything wrong, especially to coerce young victims who do not know better under the guise of medical procedure, and that’s a big phrase for a little girl.
So I understand not trusting anyone, being scarred forever, but scars heal and it’s so very important that you came here. You’re all survivors and role models in so many ways you haven’t even conceived yet. I thank you very much
MS. LEMKE-AKEO: Thank you.