He was directly confronted with the evil thing he did to me and he was given an opportunity to admit his problem and get better, but instead he denied everything and added insult to the injuries he already left me with.
date of testimony: January 17th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of first abuse: 12
date of absue: 2007-2015
In 2014 I had an appointment with Larry Nassar for hip and back pain. From childhood appointments and hearing about him professionally from my mom, I knew he was a big deal. Doctor Larry Nassar was a trusted name in the medical field, and I felt lucky to have an opportunity to see such a prolific doctor for old high school injuries.
I showed up full of hope and excitement.
From my past appointments I had with him I gathered he was goofy and handsy but because of his well-known, widely respected title, his odd behaviors that should have raised red flags barely raised eyebrows as they were dismissed and brushed off as part of his quirky personalty. There I was, entering his office and anticipating greatness, placing my personal health and well-being in the hands of that man, a man I was told deserved my trust and my respect with his degrees decorating his walls and enforcing the fact, all riddled with his name and title he used as a shield to hide behind. That man was the hero doctor in town and he had us all fooled, but in late March of 2014 I found out that man’s true identity. Larry Nassar was no hero, he was a villain.
At the end of a long and tiring appointment, that man sent his resident out of the room and then stuck his hand up my shirt and down my pants. He sexually assaulted me in spite of my protests and would not let me leave until I agreed to come back for a follow up assault. It was terrifying and disgusting, and I spent days in shock from the violation I had experienced at his hands I knew he was a praised doctor, a healer of Olympic gymnasts. He was the miracle worker, Larry Nassar, and he had just abused me on his appointment table.
I didn’t know who to tell, and I was scared no one would believe me. Sometimes I even had a hard time believing myself, but at the end I knew I had to report it. He was so smooth and so calculated at that appointment. He used his position of power, his reputation, and his stature to make me feel special and comfortable, and then he sexually assaulted me. I could not let what happened to me happen to anyone else.
After finally finding the courage to make the call, I contacted a doctor I knew that worked with Larry Nassar and told him my story. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing and I felt like throwing up the entire time, but I did it, and I hoped the worst was over with.
Doctor Kovan thanked me for coming forward and told me we would be in touch soon. It was hard telling my story, but I could rest a little easier knowing I was helping protect future potential victims.
I waited to hear back from the university for days and then weeks, and I started to feel uneasy again. I started to give up hope and I worried my word hadn’t been taken to heart.
Eventually I did get a phone call from Kristine Moore at MSU’s office of institutional equity, and I started to feel hopeful again. She asked to hear the details of my complaint, and when I started to explain exactly where Larry put his hands without gloves or another person present in the room, she wanted to meet with me in person immediately. I again relayed my story to her and a police officer and I thought maybe this time I would be taken seriously.
They seemed to be horrified by the details of the sexual assault I had experienced and reported to them in no uncertain terms. This time I just knew my voice had been heard and this disgusting man would never be able to hurt anyone else ever again. At least that’s what I thought, but I was wrong.
The investigation done by MSU was brief and sloppy and it left me feeling disposable and worthless. After asking a few of his friends if what he did was inappropriate and getting a collective answer of, well, I would have done it differently but I guess what he did was okay, Larry Nassar was cleared to practice again under new guidelines that were never actually enforced.
When asked about the assault, Larry gave an answer about how he couldn’t remember the exact appointment but it seemed like something he did and I must have been mistaken about the sexual nature of the procedure. He was directly confronted with the evil thing he did to me and he was given an opportunity to admit his problem and get better, but instead he denied everything and added insult to the injuries he already left me with.
I was not one of his younger victims without words to explain what he did. I was a woman in my mid 20s studying to go to medical school and working at a pediatrician’s office. I knew that he had abused me. I reported it. And Michigan State University, the school I loved and trusted, had the audacity to tell me that I did not understand the difference between sexual assault and a medical procedure. That master manipulator took advantage of his title, he abused me, and when I found the strength to talk about what happened, I was ignored and my voice was silenced.
I spent years trying to get over what happened that day and the damage the investigation did to my life. Years of not being able to trust anyone and messy relationships and feeling so alone every single day. You’re scared of doctors and men and figures of authority. Actually, I’m scared of people all the time. I’m uncomfortable when people get too close during conversations and I jump if someone touches me without warning. I’m jittery and nervous around men, constantly overanalyzing situations.
It was almost four years ago now and I still have nightmares about that day. Sometimes I’m just trapped in his examination room and he won’t let me leave. Other times I’m being held down on the table and I’m yelling but my voice doesn’t work.
What he did shows up in my daily life and also affects me while I sleep. Since this case was reopened I have struggled to even leave my bed on some of my worst days. I wake up crying feeling empty and my anxiety about facing the world paralyzes me. Sometimes I call loved ones, but most of the time I’m too embarrassed to call so I spend another morning crying under the covers for hours before dragging myself out of bed and going to work where I spend the day nervous and restless and uneasy around everyone. What happened to me bleeds into every area of my life and I feel tense and fearful all of the time.
When Larry Nassar sexually assaulted me and MSU covered for him, they altered the entire course of my life. From my career path to just the way I navigate through crowded rooms, everything has changed. Sometimes I’m terrified that these scars are too deep and I will never be whole again, but I cannot allow myself to remain a victim any longer, because I am a survivor. And even though he left me with these scars, I survived what that evil man did to me. Some day I will be whole again.
And, Larry, the thing you didn’t realize while you were sexually assaulting me and all of these young girls and breaking our lives is that you were also building an army of survivors who would ultimately expose you for what you truly are, a sexual predator. You might have broken us, but from this rubble we will rise as an army of female warriors who will never let you or any man drunk off of power get away with such evil ever again.
THE COURT: Thank you. That was wonderful.
You are a survivor. Your scars are healing. Your voice is no longer silent. I have heard it. The world has heard it, and you are not alone. You not only have other survivors but you have a world who is in support of all of you.
This cannot happen. You are ensuring that others will not be violated, not just by this defendant but by other predators. Things are going to change. You’ve been heard.
The system clearly failed you, and I’m sorry about that. It’s not the first time. I suspect it won’t be the last time, but you are part of making that system better.
I applaud you for when the very incident happened for speaking up. It’s interesting to me this morning, I heard from three, I know I will hear from many more today and the days coming, but I also heard the same yesterday, this defendant could also have been charged with unlawful imprisonment. It sounds to me like the number of crimes that could have been charged and weren’t is almost endless, and they are all vile acts, and you were right in pursuing what you did, and I want you to know that I’m taking all of this into consideration at sentencing. He will never be free. The next judge he faces will be God. Thank you.
MS. THOMASHOW: Thank you.
MS. POVILAITIS: Judge, just for the record, you’ve heard from both of the Thomashow sisters, Jessica yesterday and Amanda just now, and I know you have a binder of statements and obviously those statements include more statements than just those that are being delivered in court. I just wanted to point the court’s attention, because I know you likely probably already read all of them, but that their mother, Doctor Suzanne Thomashow, also wrote statements on behalf of both girls, and particularly her situation is very unique having gone to college with — or medical school with the doctor — with the defendant and referred patients.
THE COURT: Yes. She has a very unique voice. Does she want any or all of that read into the record?
MS. POVILAITIS: I will ask her on a break and I’ll let you know.