date of testimony: January 19th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at first abuse: 16
For the last year I have lived behind the shadows of the name Jane AN Doe. I was afraid to be identified as myself and didn’t want to accept this as my story so Jane Doe was a nice name to push my pain and confusion off on, but I can’t push it off anymore. This happened to me, and I have a name.
My name is Kassie Powell. I was a pole vaulter and javelin throw on the Michigan State University team. I spent so many agonizing hours and days breaking down trying to come up with the words to adequately express the point I want to get across here today. In order to do so, I need to start at the beginning.
I still remember the first time I ever saw you, Larry. March 26, 2010. My Uncle Mike had referred me to you as he knew that you were — he knew you from working with you at Twistars.
I was 16 years old with dreams and aspirations that were larger than my hands could possibly grasp. I had so much potential both in physical and mental capacities. You knew what pole vault meant to me and you knew how desperately I needed help and relief from pain. You rushed me to get an MRI that day, telling me you thought I had cancerous tumors, or perhaps osteoid osteoma might ring a bell. You said I had cancerous tumors — you thought I had cancerous tumors pressing against my spine and possibly fracturing vertebrae.
Don’t look confused.
Fear and sadness rushed over my entire being. I had a family wedding that night and you called during the wedding telling my parents and I that it came back negative for tumors but my L2/L3 vertebrae were fractured. I felt so helpless and yet special and cared for all at the same time. You really know how to make young girls think they need you, don’t you?
I came back the next week and you fitted me for a back brace, giving me advice as I was preparing to compete in Texas at the Youth Olympic trials. You gave me an Olympic track and field sweatshirt and I swear I wore that thing around my house for weeks on end because I truly believed I was exactly where I needed to be to make my dream of becoming an Olympian come true. Oh, how you had me fooled.
That was the day you massaged my glutes with your hands down my pants. You mentioned that medical procedures would work better if I shaved around my private areas.
I remember the first time you used your bare fingers to penetrate me. My mom stood at my head while your hands made your way under a towel and under my spandex and shorts. In fear and unfamiliarity, I remember looking around frantically, and as I looked left to your figure standing over me, I saw a bulge in your pants. I walked out of the office that day feeling incredibly dirty and nauseous.
Now, let me explain that really quickly. I have been in counseling for the last year and it was asked of me in counseling did penis ever cross your mind? And when I was asked that question I — it became evidently clear to me that that is exactly what I saw that day, so I will go on.
I walked out of the office that day feeling incredibly dirty and nauseous, a feeling that I have most recently come to know as trauma and distrust. My mom looked at me while we got in the car to leave and before we pulled away she said, Kass, are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost. I replied, I think I’m okay but I don’t ever want him to do that again. The 35 minute car ride home felt like 35 hours as I didn’t speak and sat in silence trying to wrap my mind around why I felt so nauseated.
The next appointment my mom, not knowing that you had your fingers inside her 16 year old daughter the week before, kindly told you, what you did last time was really uncomfortable and she prefers that you didn’t do it again. She spoke for me as you had already stolen the voice, confidence, and innocence of that girl. As you can see, I still struggle referring to that young girl as I or me as I struggle accepting that for six years I thought you genuinely wanted to help me and you were merely using me for your own selfish desires to get off on.
Unfortunately, to no one’s surprise, it didn’t stop there. Because I trusted that it surely wouldn’t happen again if we told you not to do it again. Wrong. You started a routine, as we heard many talk about, each time I came in, asking about my uncle and how he was. You would have me stand in front of you and bend over — I would bend over so that you could check my alignment of my hips. You’d tap on the table telling me to lay on my back. You’d start by cracking my neck, my upper back, lower back, by standing on each side of me to rotate my upper body. All normal, right? What wasn’t normal is you would constantly have your hands on me making your way from the left side of my body, running your hand down my left hip and leg, only to make your way up my right side. You’d have me flip to my stomach feeling the ribs on my upper back.
One of my first visits you had me sit up after feeling your way up my upper back. Standing behind me you lifted my shirt from the back and your left hand made its way under my armpit, under my sports bra, and around my left breast cupping it in your hand and massaging it. Yet again, fear and panic ran through my mind as I had no idea what was happening. You had your right hand gently on my right shoulder with no pressure anywhere, just holding and massaging my left breast. To this day I still don’t know why.
I remember you asking me if it felt better, and I quickly said yes because I wanted it to stop and didn’t know why you were doing it in the first place. I’m still comprehending and accepting that that’s just what you did over and over, isn’t it? You took advantage of young girls because we all just trusted what you were doing.
Back to your routine, though. After making your way up my upper back you would grab a towel, tuck it into my waistband, grab the cocoa butter, spread it on my lower back and hamstrings, and while your left forearm slid its way up and down my lower back and hamstring, your right hand would make its way under the towel and under my spandex while your dry, gloveless fingers forced their way into me pressing in and pulling so hard against the outer wall that I could have screamed, but, like athletes do, I gritted my teeth as to not look weak, but you always made sure to make me feel weak anyway by telling me that I have a weak cheerleader butt every single time I saw you.
But I can’t even say that, though, because I didn’t always come to your office to see you, did I? No. You texted me before my Big Ten championships my junior year to see if I needed anything before leaving for West Lafayette and asked me to come over to your house. Yet again, I thought you cared, but you just wanted to be in our own backyard to put your fingers inside of me. Did it make you feel powerful to get away with never having accountability or oversight?
Even when there was someone shadowing you or any assistant in the room, you made sure to advise them to leave the room saying, I’m all set, you can go, or, you can step out for this part, like it was no big deal. Even more interesting, when my athletic trainers came with me to your appointments you would not touch me in the same ways. Do you understand how sickening and painful it is to look back at all of this? No, you don’t. You made that evidently clear when you wrote what you were saying — that what we are saying is not strong enough for criminal charges.
I was recently asked, if you could go back and change anything, what would you change? The answer is nothing. What is a young girl supposed to do in times of fear? Tell their mom and plead for it to stop? I did those things. Sorry, excuse me. I now struggle believing my voice means anything or holds any weight to anyone. I feel unheard and, at most times, helpless.
When Rachael came forward last September — thank you, by the way — I initially did not want to believe it. Again, because I didn’t want to accept that this is part of my story. Unfortunately, my memory works all too well for this madness, and as I started going to counseling, it all started to add up, one plus one plus one plus 45 equals 48. 48 times over six years I believed you were helping me and now I know you were using your authority and status to harm me and countless other young girls. Because of you, I struggle to trust anyone.
Even God. I contemplate how God could allow something like this to happen to me and so many others, but it wasn’t God that caused it. It was you, Larry Nassar.
Because of you, being helped and abused go hand in hand. I have pushed away everyone I have ever loved or has ever loved me, oftentimes lashing out at them because I question everyone’s intentions. Happy, extroverted, carefree, adventurous Kassie has been lost as you stole and left me with a void and feeling of emptiness and loss deeper than words can express.
I have explained today, January 19, 2018, to friends and family as my own funeral and this is my own obituary, because I now mourn the loss of so many parts of who I was. You stole my innocence, my voice, my trust, my joy, and years of my life that I won’t get back. So many times I have contemplated ending my own life thinking that torturing myself would be better than accepting this truth because at least then I would have control over the pain.
I have hurt my dearest friends and family who have undergone undue misdirected anger and undue stress from this whole process.
You have destroyed my psyche, and now the pain and dysfunction doesn’t just affect me and every other girl involved in this case, but it’s transferred to all of those around us.
I am haunted by reoccurring nightmares of the abuse, and I wake up screaming, crying, and in cold sweats many nights. There is no sanctuary from this mental torment. I want so badly to love and accept and to be loved and accepted, but at the same time I’m so scared and terrified that everyone is just going to harm me like you have.
I trusted you for years. How am I ever supposed to trust anyone as who they say they are? I struggled to breathe in panic and anxiety when I think about that. You put immense fear, pain, and hate into my heart. What is ironic about that is yesterday we became aware that you were really concerned about your ability to handle listening to impact statements. Four days. Really? You can’t handle four days? You really think that we can handle the torment and humiliation that you caused our mentality and status for the rest of our lives?
Scripture says that a thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. You are a thief, Larry Nassar. I now live in fear, darkness, sadness, and pain.
The craziest part is that I am ashamed that I was assaulted and have carried that shame with me. I am ashamed that I was looking at your pants that day and know you had an erection. I am ashamed to speak of my pain because I don’t want to be going through this living hell so why would I share that weight with anyone else? Do you understand what shame does to a person? It isolates them. No human wants to look their father or mother, brother or sister, friends or family in the eyes and tell them how they were used. I shut everyone out and sat alone in a lot of this darkness.
I graduated from Michigan State in 2015 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I was managing a medical facility. Every day I watched patients walk in desperate for help and sat in my own mental agony facing flashbacks and triggers that were unbearable. Unable to handle the medical setting and unsure of what to do with my professional life in order to making a living, I was encouraged to pursue what I love. I was given an opportunity to come back to Michigan State as a graduate assistant for the track and field team. I had a choice, stay in Nashville and struggle to focus on anything else outside of this consuming distress or come back to East Lansing and face all of this head-on walking the same sidewalks and hallways I did when you were abusing me. Neither of those are real great, are they?
I chose to run back into a burning building with fire and debris all around me, and here I am, still standing, still pressing on, in spite of you and in pursuit of my own dream to coach.
With the help of counselors, medical professional unlike yourself, family, friends, and God’s faithful and unfailing love I have hope that I will find healing and peace, strength and dignity.
I now want to take to moment to thank many people.
February 1st, 2017 — excuse me, February 1st, 2017, was the day I decided to come forward after five months of understanding the war that was waged against me. I want to thank my dad, a retired law enforcement officer, for helping me make that call and for being my human dictionary and hero when I didn’t understand what was happening legally, mentally, emotionally, the list goes on. I want to thank Detective Andrew Munford for graciously receiving the call and gently walking with me through the process from start to finish.
Thank you to my counselors for helping me to understand the utter confusion that comes from both being helped and harmed at the very same time and helping me believe that tears don’t always mean you’re weak, that sometimes tears are evidence of strength.
Thank you to my incredible parents, brother, and sister who have listened to me talk in circles, never judge me, and have helped me stand.
Thank you to my roommates, Matt and Jill, for giving me a safe place to live when I didn’t know what the word safe meant anymore.
To my best friend, Erika, who has been so present, encouraging, forgiving, patient, and loving, thank you.
Thank you to everyone involved in the trial and for their endless time and attention.
Judge Aquilina, I want to personally thank you for taking the time to hear us all and for validating the strength it takes to stand up against this evil. Thank you for restoring us with a little bit of dignity by calling us heroes against an epidemic after Larry pled guilty and for continuing to do so day after day this week.
And, finally, to every girl involved here, thank you for your bravery, for your vulnerability, and for your strength when you felt anything but strong.
I have struggled thinking about this day and all the emotions it would bring. I was so afraid of standing up here looking this man in the eyes because I knew that staring evil in the eyes would take strength that I do not have in and of myself. I knew I was walking into a situation that would bring closure, yes, but also I knew that what I was walking into today would bring — would cause more nightmares and flashbacks for days and nights to come. I have remind myself that my God and my Savior also walked into a situation where he was abused, mocked, and terrified but he did it in order that we may have life.
I remind myself that Esther was put in a situation for such a time as this so that her people would find relief and deliverance, the same thing every one of us is seeking here this week.
I remember the story of Joseph in Genesis 50:20. You meant evil against me, Larry. But God meant it for good. I remind myself of Hebrews 10:30, vengeance is mine, said the Lord. I will repay. That one helps me sleep at night.
I remind myself that sometimes we are given far more than we can handle so we’ll fall on our faces in desperation for God to give us the strength for another day.
I remind myself that after crucifixion of self and humiliation on Friday, Jesus rose on Sunday and so will we.
I remind myself that the prophet Jobe lost everything, and though he never got the answer to why, he still believed that God is good and in the midst of great loss and immense pain he believed he was good.
We will never know the answer to why Larry Nassar used all of us, but I have to believe the suffering and pain will make us stronger. So we must not walk away from here with our heads hung low but with pride in ourselves that we have stood firm against evil and stopped it.
There will be so many hard days ahead of memories followed by triggers causing pain and sadness, fear and anger, but on those days I pray we will all know we’re not alone, that we have each other, and there is strength in numbers.
I pray that God would help us find forgiveness and peace in the midst of all of this. Forgiveness will look differently for all of us. For me, it will be a daily occurrence and battle.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God — just as in Christ God forgave you.
I wish I could stand in front of you today and tell you that I forgive you, Larry, but it will be a daily fight to forgive you and to find healing and peace.
The hardest part about ending this statement is I know as soon as I walk away from this room I will think about a million other things I want to say. What am I supposed to do with that? I guess I’ll find out as I go.
With that, it will soon be time for Larry to reap what he has sewn. There is no grooming that can be done in the face of this judge to blind her eyes to the evil, heinous harm that you did. It is time for justice to finally be served. You hid for years behind Olympic rings and a Spartan head, but there is now no where left for you to hide, Larry.
Judge Aquilina, I plead with you that you would give this man the maximum sentence. Thank you for your time.
THE COURT: Thank you. I want you to know, first of all, Super Woman has nothing on you. You are an amazing woman. You all are. This is the new generation of super women that we’re hearing from. You matter. Your voice means everything here. I know you felt that you haven’t had a voice, but you’ve been heard.
You stole your voice back and he will never have it or hear it again unless these words are played to him.
I absolutely adore your career choice.
Being a coach with your wisdom, intelligence, and eyes wide open on behalf of everybody you coach, it is vital to the change that all of you are seeking, and I applaud that.
Please keep your voice going. I’ve said it before, I’m going to keep saying it because it’s an epidemic, suicide shuts you up. It doesn’t let anything good happen except a lot –
MS. POWELL: It takes a very, very sick type of person to commit crimes such as murder or assault so I would never do that.
THE COURT: I am so glad to hear that, because I’ve heard it from most of you that it’s crossed your mind, and I just want to reenforce that we want you here. We want your voice. We want that super voice, that super coach that you’re going to be, and I am so pleased that you came here. Keep up the good fight. I’m going to be watching, and I don’t know how you feel right now, but I really feel like you are ten feet taller than when you came in. Thank you.
MS. POWELL: Probably true. My father also has a couple words. I don’t know if he’s prepared or if you would be willing to hear them.
THE COURT: Of course I am.
MS. POWELL: Okay. Thank you.
[Kassie’s father Doug Powell]
Inmate Nassar. Inmate Nassar, that is what your name is, and don’t you forget that.
The media outlets that have so intently covered this hearing need to know your name. Your name is not Doctor Nassar. It is not Mr. Nassar. It is not Larry. It’s inmate. Inmate 21504-040 for your eternal life.
As a law enforcement correctional professional for over 32 years I speak for myself, and my personal feeling is that you do not deserve to be educated regarding your future. You do not deserve to be educated on how tos; how to fly a KITE to a correctional officer to ask for a doctor, how to fly a KITE to ask how to fill out an indigent inmate form, how to fly a KITE to ask how you use the inmate telephone system.
You do not deserve the whens. When will those blue clothes you have on your back be washed. When will those whites that are limited in your possession be laundered? When will your blankets be laundered. You do not deserve that.
The wheres within those facilities and the watch out fors. You do not deserve to be educated in that as you are forever escorted from wall to wall.
Because, as we have all seen and you have proven, you did not care to extend that courtesy or compassion to anyone, yet you simply benefited from your pathetic, narcissistic, psychopathic agenda.
However, I will educate you on some prison argots, language, terms that you might want to understand. As documented in a correctional textbook that I’ve used for lectures, written by PhD Frank Schmalleger and PhD and PhD John Smykla, you will want to come familiar with these terms. Fish. Chester. Diaper sniper. Diddler. Tree jumper. Just to list a few.
I hope these argots are offensive to you because you are offensive to us. However, in my world and in my family’s world that you have so conveniently destroyed, you are a fucking hog. A hog.
Inmate Nassar, I pray –and I’m sure this goes against survivor opinions in this room, but I pray that these county, state, and federal correctional staff, that you will forever come in contact with, perform their jobs to the best of their abilities to keep you alive — and don’t you dare try to manipulate the correctional facility and be a coward and harm yourself — alive so you can live in fear as you have inflicted fear, guilt, and pain on these young women and families. I want you to fear the demons from the dark, as we have done. I want you to wake in the night soaked with your own sweat from the nightmares as I and my family have done. I want you to fear for the safety, sanity of your children, wife and family, as I and my family have done.
I want you to fear the pain of the futuristic death notifications that are certain to come your way as you remain locked within the walls unable to hold and console your family.
I want you to fear those dark corners and unimaginable correctional corridors. I want you to fear that booty bandit that wants to make you his punk. I want you to fear and cry and no one to listen.
I want you to remain alive for your eternal life inside those walls.
I read a quote a few weeks back, searching the internet for inspiring quotes and sayings just trying to help my girls place some sort of existence in daily life during all these dark days and nights, and this quote resonates in my mind as I am a woodworker, for therapeutic reasons, and I paraphrase. You, Inmate Nassar, are like a piece of sandpaper in a woodworker’s shop. You scratch. You dig, and you will change the exterior, and in this case the enthusiasm, the internal minds, the trust, and the dignity of so many. But in the end, those scratched and dug will become polished and beautiful — and beautiful, strong women they are, and they have rocked your world. And you, Inmate Nassar, will be disregarded and thrown into the garbage like the garbage you are.
Judge Aquilina, as we approach the close to these four daunting days of emotionally charged statements, I applaud you. We applaud you. This room applauds you for your candor, your demeanor, your willingness and understanding to listen to so many horrific stories. I encourage you to impose the maximum sentence upon Inmate Nassar recommended by Attorney Povilaitis and her team.
I, we, eagerly wait for the closure of this hearing to hear your voice. Thank you.
THE COURT: Sir, thank you so much. You have the depth and knowledge that other parents don’t, and I know that your words were more than heartfelt. I know that what you’ve gone through and every parent has gone through is very sickening, but because you know the legal system so much, I know there’s a special hurting place in you, and I hear that in your words, and I’m hoping that today coming here will also help you heal, and you are also a survivor with that voice, and your voice has also helped to shake now and in the future others and rock defendant’s world. I have heard you. No thanks needed with me. I know this seems unusual and it is unusual because of so many victims, but I do this every day with all victims. I’m not specially selecting this. I know you all keep honoring me that way and I’m humbled, but it’s really not necessary. You did your job out on the streets. That’s more than what I’ve ever done. Thank you, sir. Thank you to your beautiful daughter. You’re quite a team.
MR. POWELL: Thank you.