date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of first abuse: 12
age at hearing: 33
In 1997 I saw Doctor Nassar. I was a gymnast, competitive gymnast, and really dedicated to the sport. I spent a lot of time in the gym, had a lot of injuries. This one year — this one month in ’97 we were at a competition and I ended up fracturing and dislocating my coccyx bone, my tailbone, and went over to see him the following day, and I had seen him before for, like, some wrist-type injuries, things like that. And I went over to the table, and my mother was in the room, and he explained that due to the injury, which he had an x-ray, he did show us the coccyx bone was dislocated and fractured —
THE COURT: How old were you at the time?
12. So she was in the room. He explained, I’m going to need to have you take off your pants and lay face down and I will have to massage the muscles with my fingers, and he said, I will have to go up anally and massage those muscles to loosen them before I move the bone back in place, so I laid down, and my mother was aware, and he instead inserted his fingers into my vagina, and because of me being 12, I didn’t know — I really didn’t even know the difference, honestly, if it was my vagina or what. I didn’t know. But I just remember being in so much pain, tears streaming down my face, holding on to the table just shaking, and I felt like I didn’t — I didn’t know what to do.
My mother and him were having a conversation this whole time just about whatever, life, and it seemed like forever, went on forever, and finally he pulled his hand out anally and then inserted them vaginally, and that’s when I knew there was a difference at that point and that he had his fingers in both places.
THE COURT: Was this — if you don’t mind, and you don’t have to answer, was this with gloves or without gloves? Do you remember?
I don’t remember.
But then he popped the bone back into place. I went to school. He said, come back and see me in two weeks and we’ll make sure it’s final. I went back to see him a couple weeks later, feeling better, and he says — we didn’t do an x-ray, didn’t do any x-ray — he said, it’s out of place, again I need to redo the procedure, and I remember just being completely scared. You know, I didn’t want to go through that again. I did not want to go through that. But I went through it again, and the same thing, the tears coming down, almost kind of, just in the middle of it, I don’t want to say blacked out but was, like, out of body almost, just numb, blank stare kind of, didn’t know what to do. My mom was, once again, in the room.
And on the way home I told her what happened and she was livid. She was so furious. I remember her saying, what? He did what? He didn’t tell me he was going to do that. He just said he needed to anally massage the muscles. He didn’t tell me he was going to go up the other way, and at that point I was scared. I didn’t know what to think. Being a 12 year old you kind of just trust the doctor. Like, you know, all the other women were saying, you just believe that he’s doing what’s best for you, what’s right for you. Being that young, just trust, and he was very well respected and everybody talked so highly of him, so back in the gym I remember people whispering about what had happened because at that point it went around to everyone.
All the parents were talking, coaches were talking about it, and I felt really alone, just — I didn’t know what to think or do, really. Just very alone.
THE COURT: Do you mean that they were talking about what happened to you?
THE COURT: Everyone was talking about it and no one did anything?
Nobody did anything, no. The coaches, I think that was — I know they’re probably listening and watching — the people that I was most disappointed in because they were supposed to protect us and they just decided that it was more important to have functioning athletes and the reputation was more important than our well-being and how we felt, so, you know, really that was the thing that really broke my heart was that they let — they let me down, and I want to say this, because I think in all sports now, especially with this happening, I think it’s important that coaches really try to be there for the athletes and not think about the sport and the competition and that notoriety of how great they are over the fact that they’re working with children, they’re coaching children, they’re leaving their children in care of somebody like Larry and they’re just brushing it all aside, and I don’t want that to ever happen to anybody else.
So, you know, this happened when I was 12. I’m now 33. And I have four kids of my own, and I’ve had so much depression over my life, over the years, I think that was my biggest struggle, severe depression. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, trouble with relationships, trouble keeping jobs. I mean, everybody’s story that I listened to, it’s just an echo of everything that I have went through.
They’re just speaking like it’s my voice, so I just — it’s just really surreal, actually, being in this situation right now. Never imagined I would be here. I heard about this last minute and I really couldn’t sit down and write. I said, I just have to go up there and say what happened and speak my truth, so I’m trying to think if there’s anything else that I need to pinpoint right now.
I just want other girls to be safe — other people, not just girls, other athletes, even boys to be safe from sexual predators from this kind of abuse, and, oh, I do forgive you, too, Larry. I believe in forgiveness. I’m not going to carry that for the rest of my life. I’m not. I have important things to do as a mom. I have some really great people in my life. My dad is here to support me today. And I just wanted to speak — just say this finally, just really get it off my chest and put it out there, and hopefully it will help other people do the same in situations.
THE COURT: Doing what you’re doing today really is a giant step in healing. We see that over and over again with victims that come and talk about what happened to them. I think that what you said is very meaningful. And you’re right, it is one united voice with all of the victims, which is why I thought it was so important you all have a chance to speak, because as much as there are some different stories and feelings, they are very much the same, and you’re all speaking and echoing each other’s voices in terms of what pain and destruction defendant has caused.
And, absolutely, coaches should speak for their athletes, first and foremost for their safety and take all complaints serious, and I can’t imagine in 1997 this happening to you and not one person paying attention when they were all talking. Shame. Shame on all of them. I can’t do anything about that now but I can tell you, I know — you said you felt brushed aside.
THE COURT: You have not been brushed aside by law enforcement, the people, or this court.
Hopefully with defendant being in prison that will provide you some relief and you’ll be able to mend from the depression and get a good night’s sleep. Your children are counting on you. Your family is counting on you. This community is counting on you.
Speaking the truth, one united voice, means you are strong, getting stronger every day, and you need to shove that depression aside and say, here I am, world, I’m ready to fight, because today you did fight on behalf of yourself and all others who feel they don’t have a voice. You’re an example. So your family and children should be very proud of you. I am. Thank you very much.