date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
date of first abuse: 2013
statement read by court official Ms Liddell
In September 2016 I received a daily news e-mail from my local patch.com. The top headline read, Former USA Gymnastics doctor accused of abuse. I will never forget that moment. I was stopped at a red light near my home. There was a picture of him along with the headline. I had to pull my car over. I dry heaved in the street while sobbing uncontrollably. I was disgusted by myself and my body. I felt dirty and helpless, so very lost and so very sad.
I called the Michigan State Police Department that day, and after five years of silence I reported his abuse. I had to relive all his treatments and every question, every detail, remembering how he touched me and penetrated me without gloves or lubricant. I cried for weeks and then months.
It has affected my role as a mother, as a daughter, and as a wife. But the last year I’ve had to put a brave face on in front of my young children to protect them from their sad, confused, and grieving mother. I have had to forgive my parents for not being more involved in my treatments as an injured and defeated young college athlete. I have had to explain to my loving husband why intimacy had become difficult for me. I will be affected by Doctor Nassar’s abuse for the rest of my life.
At the time of the treatment I hated his demeanor. His use of too much medical jargon, his groping and his touching of my vaginal area inside and out. I dreaded every appointment.
I was suffering from a herniated disc, L-5 and S-1, and had chronic nerve pain shooting down my legs. I had already had one surgery and was trying to avoid a second more serious spinal fusion surgery because I knew the impact it would have on my collegiate athletic career and my life. I was 20 years old.
All I wanted to do was to be able to compete in my sport again and live a pain-free, active lifestyle. My athletic trainer trusted that Doctor Nassar would live up to his reputation.
Doctor Nassar was recommended to me as the second opinion outside the medical team at the University of Michigan. His reputation, his authority, his accolades cloud the truth behind the procedures that was supposed to alleviate the nerve pain and to help me avoid surgery. They didn’t. I had to have that spinal fusion surgery, but not before I endured several sessions of pure torture and agony.
Each treatment was an hour. He massaged my breasts, buttocks, groin, hips, and would end with what felt like endless digital penetration. Doctor Nassar never stopped his hands. His treatments made me feel like I was an animal, a piece of meat. I remember using a rough paper towel in his office after treatment to wipe him off of me before leaving the exam room. I remember being sore inside.
As a student athlete on scholarship at a Division One, Big Ten university with strength coaches, head coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, sports doctors, and physical therapists, the list goes on and on, our bodies were our most prized possession. We trained them, worked them, and dealt with high levels of pain running through them. Mind over matter. Athletics were not something I did, an athlete was who I was.
Keeping my body healthy to maintain my spot on the field and maintain my financial scholarship was the most important thing in my life. I was 20 years old but still a child living within the bubble division one Big Ten college sports. I had to trust my coaches, trainers, and physical therapists. I had to trust my doctors. No questions asked. Doctor Nassar knew this. Doctor Nassar preyed on my desperation and my weakness.
It is my opinion that Doctor Nassar should be held accountable for his strategic and manipulative abuse. His sentence should keep him in prison for the rest of his life just as I was a victim of his abuse for the rest of mine.
Thank you, victim two.
THE COURT: Thank you. As to victim two, I’m hopeful she does not feel manipulated and a victim anymore, although we use that term simultaneously with a survivor. She is a survivor.
I’m hoping now that her words are out, that she’s publicly made this statement, that the crying will stop and be replaced with happiness and joy, because she is no longer defeated. Defendant is defeated.
She a pillar of strength for coming forward, for recognizing what happened to her, and for joining in with the other victim survivors. Together you are all such a strong voice, and I’m hearing this over and over, and maybe I’m repeating myself, I don’t care, the more we have to hear it, as many times and as often as we can say it because victims — other victims who need to come forward, and victim two needs to stop crying — I’m hoping she stops crying. I’m hoping that her words are crying into the world and to other victims to come forward, so thank you, victim two.