date of testimony: January 18th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at first abuse:
Good afternoon. My name is Jessica Smith, and this is my mother, Kimberly Smith, who attended my appointments with me at Michigan State University Sports Medicine.
I am a dancer and a teacher. I am a survivor of Larry Nassar and also the creator of the Facebook page, Me Too MSU.
THE COURT: Congratulations for that. That was outstanding, enormous.
MS. J. SMITH: Thank you. I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me with their stories on the page. You are amazing.
I was hesitant to speak here today because, quite frankly, I don’t believe that this man, or lack thereof, deserves to hear any of us speak. I decided that I’m here today to take another step in my healing process, which I have chosen, that is my decision.
I am here to speak to you, Your Honor. I’m here to support all the amazing women and men, too, that have endured the trauma from defendant.
Because of Nassar, I struggle. I struggle to trust and feel comfortable. I struggle to sleep and to be me. I struggle to stay sane and sable — sorry, stable. And, most importantly, I struggle to be myself. However, yet at the end of the day I do not feel these qualities — sorry, let me move back a little bit. Most importantly, I struggle to be me. I am an independent, strong, loving, and passionate young woman, and I deserve to feel myself. However, at the end of the day I do not feel these qualities because my ability to be myself was taken away by someone who abused my trust as well as my body.
The trauma the abuse has caused me, my family, my community can never be undone. Yet, what allows me to get out of bed each day is the hope of creating a better and safer environment around me. That starts with me knowing that Nassar will no longer pose a risk and will never be allowed to be a part of the community or this society again.
At the age of 17 I saw Nassar for a very severe ankle sprain. This baffles me, how he made his way to my private areas. After my first appointment I remember looking for validation of what happened from friends who had also seen him for treatment. I recall this day like it was yesterday.
I went to my dance friends and asked them if they were uncomfortable in their appointments and they laughed and said, yeah, we joke Nassar was the first guy to finger us. They laughed and I was comforted by knowing I wasn’t alone. Now I am mortified that I didn’t understand exactly what that meant in that time.
That day I lost a large piece of myself and my sanity. Not only has the sexual abuse taken away the ability to be myself but it has also caused severe emotional and physical pain.
Since being victimized I suffer from a rare form of extreme migraines that no neurologist has been able to fully understand or diagnose. This, too, left me asking myself what was wrong with me over and over again. These migraines begin with half of my body going numb, including my tongue, causing me to be unable to speak. I also lose basic functioning skills such as fine and gross motor, unable to write or even sometimes walk. These effects of my migraines can cause me to be confused or unable to think clearly for up to days after the initial headaches. This, in addition to my anxiety and inability to sleep, leaves me in an unhealthy state both physically and emotionally. Each day I’m fighting to be me again.
In addition to being inspired by these incredibly strong women and wanting to set an example to my students, I am motivated to come forward publicly with my story and be involved in this case to set a precedence that I will not be silent and I will seek justice. This justice includes answering the questions of who allowed this to happen and why, and that is including Michigan State University, USAG, and Twistars enablers who we will be holding them accountable, and I can assure people that I’m not going anywhere.
I know that the court is setting a significant precedence with your ruling and it is critical in my healing process. With time and persistence we will all end up where we are meant.
Where as we survivors stand here as strong and empowered women, you, Nassar, sit there as a sick man finally understanding your overdue fate. My only words to you is that you will never control me again. This does not define me. I am strong and finding myself again.
I hope that you will consider the endless impact and instability this weighs on my family and me as well as so many others every day.
Oh, I want to thank you, Your Honor, for the very large role in my healing process that you’ve made. Thank you.
THE COURT: It’s my honor to allow you and all of the survivors to speak. Consider yourself found. You are not lost. You’re strong, beautiful, a very clear voice of victory with your sister survivors and, you’re right, this is about your healing and his demise. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, between the three of us judges he isn’t going to see the light of day, and the next judge he sees — he’s seen a federal judge, me, and soon Judge Cunningham — will be God, and I think we’re all in agreement, God will have the right answer as he does with you being here and having that strong voice, a wonderful mother supporting you here today.
This is all about your healing. It is also about advising me, helping me make the — a decision for sentencing. As much as there’s that plea agreement, I still have to decide a few things, and all of your voices collectively help me as much as it’s important for you to heal.
It’s also important that I make the right decision, and you need to take pride that you’re helping in that decision. You’re also strengthening the sports world so this never happens to anybody else, so you found yourself. You found a strong voice. Continue with that. I look forward to seeing a lot of smiles. No more tears. Accept those of happiness. Good luck to you, ma’am.