date of testimony: January 19th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at first abuse: 12
age at hearing: 15
The first time I went to see Nassar I was 12 years old. Being the little gymnast I was I was beyond excited I had the opportunity to have Nassar as my doctor. He was spoken so highly of as he was known as the gymnastics doctor.
I was slowly injuring my back more and more with every practice until one night my pain was so bad I couldn’t even breathe without breaking down into tears. My parents were contemplating whether or not to take me to the ER, but my mom insisted she would just text Nassar to get me into an appointment as this seemed like the more beneficial way to get treatment.
My mom texted him and he got me in right away the next day. I couldn’t hardly wait to see Nassar, because with all of the stories I have heard about him supposedly treating Olympic gymnasts, I knew he was capable of finally relieving my back pain.
When I walked into his office the next day I was immediately in awe. His walls were covered with a substantial amount of pictures of Olympic gymnasts, all which included a little message and a signature. I felt so lucky that I got to have the same doctor as all of my idols in the gymnastics world and the doctor who is known as the best of the best.
My appointment with Nassar this day was at least two hours long. After he addressed my injuries he got started into the treatment. Nassar approached so many different techniques, each one relieving my pain by a slight amount. Then Nassar pulls on my leg to un-jam my hip and at this point almost all of my back pain was gone, but he still continued to try to fix me.
I felt his hands slowly make their way from my lower back down towards the seam of my short. He asked me to slip over on to my back, and as he was doing so, he jokingly told me that the next thing might be uncomfortable. Before I could even reply to his comments, he moved his hands up my shorts. He told me he was going to push on my pubic bone, but instead, I felt his fingers touch a different part of my body, a part of my body that has never been touched by anyone before. I felt all of my muscles become tense but I try to tell myself to relax because he was a doctor and he knew what he was doing.
The next appointment was just for my sister but I went along too. She was wearing pants and he made her change into these shorts that he had in a box inside his cabinet. Because of this I understood that it was also necessary for me to wear shorts every time I had an appointment. I later learned Nassar wanted us to wear loose fitting shorts so he would have easy access to the places he wanted for his own pleasure.
Soon enough I was back in his office with back pain again. My mom decided my dad should take me to this appointment as he is a physician and he could attempt to learn what Nassar was doing so I wouldn’t have to go into his office every time I hurt my back. I told my mom I did not want my dad to take me because that would be awkward. My mom asked me why it would be awkward, but I didn’t answer this question. I thought that if my mom didn’t think what he was doing under my shorts was uncomfortable, then why should I?
Before this appointment I made sure I was showered as I was preparing for him to have to touch under my shorts again. Once we went over symptoms he diagnosed me with the same thing as before. My dad was actively watching in attempt to learn what Nassar was doing to help treat me. During this appointment Nassar didn’t place his hands anywhere on my bare skin. I didn’t even have to remove my sweatpants to reveal my shorts I had under them.
After this appointment I remember thinking about him not doing the same things as he did before, but I never mentioned it as I felt uncomfortable talking about it and it did not seem important or necessary to say.
Once again, I injured my back. I followed through with the same routine of making sure I was clean before I went in and remembering to wear shorts under my sweatpants. By this time my mom and I thought we were going to know what we were expecting so my mom did not pay much attention to what Nassar was doing. I was lying on my back and Nassar slowly slipped his hands up my shorts, this time saying nothing about what he was doing before he started. He didn’t only touch inappropriate areas but he moved my underwear to the side and his ungloved hands massaged my bare skin. Once he began this, I looked over at my mom, but she was looking down. I looked at Nassar only to see his body was blocking my hips so even if my mom did look up, she could not see what he was doing to me.
His face was turned away from me, his eyes closed and squinting, and he was heavily concentrated on what he was doing. Nassar did this for roughly five minutes and then said, okay, kiddo, and made me turn over on to my stomach. He would then push on my lower back which relieved pain for the moment, but once he stopped it immediately returned. He asked me for my pain level and I told him it was the same before, the answer I’m sure he wanted to hear. He repeated this procedure several times until I realized the only way I could get him to stop was if I lied and said my pain was all gone. He had me lie on my back and he yanked on my leg to un-jam my hips and that’s when my back actually felt a little better.
After this appointment I knew my back was slowly getting worse and Nassar’s treatment was no longer helping me. I felt uncomfortable and extremely dirty after leaving these appointments. My mom asked me if my back actually felt better and I lied to her saying it did because I didn’t want her to know that Nassar couldn’t help me. I didn’t — I also didn’t want her to question me on why I was lying to him about my pain levels.
I felt so guilty and confused that I had felt uncomfortable with how this professional doctor with such a well-known reputation was treating me.
Just as I was about to go to bed one night an old friend text me a video link. I clicked on the link not knowing what to expect. This video was Rachael’s video. As she went on talking about Larry Nassar sexually abusing her I was in shock. I didn’t know what to think. I ran up the stairs to tell my mom all about this video, but before I could finish explaining myself she told me she already saw it.
My mom and I sat there in silence for a while, and I felt so sick. I was thinking about all the appointments I had with Nassar, trying to decide if this was abuse or strictly a doctor’s treatment.
I woke up the next morning and I had felt a feeling I have never felt all 14 years of my life. I went to school and wanted to do nothing more than be invisible the entire day. I did not want anyone to approach me, talk to me, or touch me. How I was feeling this day is difficult to describe but it’s something I will never forget and something I will never have to feel again.
For a while I didn’t believe I was one of the sexually abused victims. I later learned that this was not true, after rejecting the fact that I was molested by Nassar because it seemed like the easiest way to cope. I now know I was struggling so hard to decide if it was abuse or not because I knew if I admitted to myself that it was, it would change my life so much, and it did. I always knew what Nassar did to treat me was uncomfortable, but at only 12 years old I had no idea that it was inappropriate, illegal, and wrong. He was the doctor. I was the child. I had no idea what to think.
I will never be able to stress enough how much he manipulated my family and I so he could build a strong trust with us. We put all of our trust into this man, and he has such a high title and name to live up to in the gymnastics world and athletes in general. Nassar spent so much time on me and acted like he really truly cared about me.
Your Honor, may I speak to the defendant?
Larry, you used to be everything to all gymnasts and athletes and now you are nothing more than a disgusting monster. You used your power and title to hurt me mentally and emotionally. You abused me, an innocent 12 year old girl, for your own sick pleasures.
You spent so much time on me acting like you truly cared about me. Today I am a 15 year old girl and throughout my years in high school I have struggled with trust, confidence, good judgment, and for these past few weeks especially achieving my academic goals. Everyone thinks of me as a physically and mentally strong person, but today I am admitting to spending countless nights crying alone in my room suffering from feeling worthless and lost.
For the longest time you deprived me of my happiness, the ability to sleep at night, and feeling of being secure. Because of you, every time I hear someone call me kiddo, as you did, I think of the face you made while you were abusing me. You called me that reassuring to yourself that I was a young, naive girl.
There is a point in everyone’s life when they outgrow those extraordinary dreams they have, hopes they can achieve as a child, and reality kicks in when they realize the world isn’t what they used to think it was. Larry, you took this from me at 12 years old. I used to be such a joyful girl and believed everyone could be forgiven for the mistakes they have made. You made me afraid of the world.
I will never forget about the pain I have suffered, but, Larry, after today I will no longer suffer. I will be joyful that you’ll never be able to lay your hands on another girl again. You will no longer deprive me of life.
Your Honor, sometimes I think it would be easiest for me if I never knew about Nassar’s abuse, but I quickly remind myself that this would be the worst case possible. If he wasn’t behind bars now, he would be hurting more and more young girls with each day that passes. What he did will stick with us victims, will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Therefore, because we have to live with it, he should be sentenced to the maximum amount of years and locked up for the rest of his life. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you. I have heard you and your sister and your sister survivors. As you have done, as your sister has done, as all the victims have done, victim survivors have done, it helps others, and I hear that loud and clear in your insightful, youthful voice. That is what you want to do, and that’s one of the reasons you and your sister are here. The world is a better place because of what you’ve just said and done. Both of you should be very proud of yourself.
I know that now you don’t feel like the world is a great place, but it really, really is. I have heard what all of you have said, and you’re so wise at your tender age, and I’m taking into consideration everything in regard to sentencing.
You are both worthy of everything wonderful. Don’t let him take that away from you, because then he wins.
And I know that your sister talked about suicide. You didn’t, but I suspect you, like most of the other survivor victims, have thought about it. Please, don’t. You’re here today because you want a happier world and a happier life. If you leave us, he wins. I’ve said it to others. I’ll keep saying it, because suicide is never, ever an answer.
You have some incredible parents here with you, so if there are any issues, I hope that you turn to them and continue to get help. He will be behind bars and that should make you feel safer, and you should leave the grief and sadness and unworthiness here in this courtroom. We’ll sweep it away when we take him away.
MS. M. JOHNSON: Thank you.
THE COURT: Live happy lives. Thank you so much for being here.
MS. M. JOHNSON: Thank you.