It wasn't a decision I made that caused me all this pain. It was a decision that Larry Nassar made. It was a decision that MSU and USA Gymnastics made to create environments for this pedophile to thrive in.
date of testimony: January 18th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of first abuse: 15
Thank you for giving us all a chance to speak. I used to look back at my life and wonder where everything had gone wrong. After all, before I was 15 everything had seemed so perfect. I used to wonder what was wrong with me, that I had suddenly become seriously depressed, suddenly started to struggle with the success that had once come so easy to me. I used to look back at my life and wonder where everything had gone wrong.
For over a decade I was in denial that this had happened to me, but today I know where everything went wrong. I used to blame myself, but I am not to blame. Larry Nassar is to blame for putting his ungloved adult fingers inside of me when I was only 15. MSU and USA Gymnastics are to blame for employing and enabling this predator and for turning a blind eye.
I am going to explain to the court how Larry’s abuse triggered a cascade of horror that almost destroyed me.
Laying vulnerable on Larry’s table he touched me in a way my innocent mind couldn’t understand, and he did it in a practiced and calculated way, casually talking to my mother, blocking her view and distracting her.
In that moment of terror and confusion I completely froze and disassociated from myself. My memories after that moment go dark and blurry for a long time.
It started with the isolation and depression. I then developed an eating disorder based on the belief that something was wrong with me for feeling the way that I did.
I was so deathly thin at 16 that people stared and whispered behind their hands. There were years of sleepless nights staring at a dark ceiling. The pain of depression and the physical toll of the eating disorder ruined my once promising gymnastics career, which had been everything to me.
My failure in achieving everything I had wanted to do in gymnastics led me into debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. I believed I could do nothing right. This self doubt made a normal social life impossible.
I then blamed myself for my struggling social life and I began to self harm when I was 19. People stared at my scars and I felt that they could see through me. I felt vulnerable all the time, just as I had felt in that examination room with Larry at MSU.
I tried to hide from my pain and that turned into addiction and crumbling relationships. I could no longer trust anyone. All these feelings led me to believe that my emotional pain was too much for me to bear and I suffered multiple suicide attempts between the ages of 23 and 25 as well as stays at psychiatric units.
My parents and my sister lost sleep countless nights worrying that I would meet an untimely death. I have lost several jobs due to my deteriorating mental state and it has taken me over ten years to finish my bachelor’s degree because of mental health issues.
I remember reading the IndyStar article and finally at 27 years old being overcome with emotion as I realized that he had touched me not for the reasons he claimed at the time but for his own twisted sexual reasons.
Larry Nassar, the doctor parents and coaches in the gymnastics world touted as a God, was actually a demon. The man that I was assured could treat my pain and help me become a successful gymnast, this is the man that had set my life on a course of destruction.
It wasn’t a decision I made that caused me all this pain. It was a decision that Larry Nassar made. It was a decision that MSU and USA Gymnastics made to create environments for this pedophile to thrive in.
To Larry, getting brief moments of sexual pleasure was worth trading the futures of many young, bright, athletically talented girls like myself.
Today we take our futures back, even as his fades into nothingness. Thank you.
THE COURT: That was really powerful. I applaud your final statement the most, that you take your future back. Your life back. You’re absolutely right, being here, being strong — you said you had so many disorders, including anxiety, panic attacks, and look where you are, in front of a judge in an unfamiliar courtroom filled with all sorts of people, most importantly the person who harmed you. That is powerful in and of itself. You are very strong.
So many of you, you included, have talked about suicide. Please, you are valuable here. That voice that you just gave us all, so very strong, needs to continue. If you quiet it, shut it down, end here early, he wins, and I know you as a gymnast, you know the difference between winning and losing. Make him lose. You are a winner today. You have always been a winner. You have found your voice.
You are healing. He will not be healing. He’s going to get weaker and weaker.
I know that you have a ways to go. Everybody does, but this is astronomical in pushing your healing forward.
This court has heard what you want in sentencing. I take it very seriously. Your voice is very strong. I need you to keep it that way. Keep up the fight you. You have sister survivors and you are a survivor. Push him away out of your mind. You have great things to do in the world. Go out and accomplish those. Congratulations, ma’am.
MS. THELEN: Thank you.