date of testimony: January 18th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
Mary Fisher Pollmer mother of Katherine/Katie Payne and Maureen Payne
Judge, the next speaker is going to be a mother, actually, Doctor Mary Fisher. She is here speaking on behalf of her two daughters, Katherine, who I know goes by Katie Payne, and Maureen Payne, who are out of state and unable to be here, but Doctor Fisher is going to speak on their half.
So I’m here today representing my two daughters. They both live out of state, as Angela said, and they can’t attend. And my daughters are Katherine, Payne and Maureen Payne.
Your Honor. I would like to start by reading Maureen’s statement first and then I’ll conclude with Katie’s.
So both of my daughters were metro Detroit gymnasts and we drove to see Doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University Sports Medicine Clinic from 1997 to 1999.
Maureen lives in Memphis. This is her statement. She has two beautiful children and she couldn’t leave them to be here Bridges to Jackson, Jackson back to Bridges, alley-oop and dunking.
These are the words I heard on a Saturday morning as I walked into my living room and saw my son and husband playing mini basketball. They were watching a University of Michigan versus Michigan State University basketball game and were pretending to be two young Michigan State players.
They looked and saw me softly crying and my son ran over and said, mommy, why are you crying? I couldn’t tell them why. I couldn’t explain to him how every time I see the Michigan State logo I think of Doctor Larry Nassar. I couldn’t tell him of the time that I sat on his examination table and as Doctor Nassar used his fingers to penetrate me repeatedly, had to bite down on my finger to cope with the pain. I couldn’t describe to him the stench of sweat on Doctor Nassar’s face that I still remember. Instead, my husband just shut off the t.v.
Today’s message has two purposes, Your Honor. First, to call out the negligence and lack of accountability on the part of the institution that enabled Doctor Nassar to continually abuse me, my sister, and my fellow gymnasts.
I want to call out your university, Doctor Nassar, one that filed a motion last Saturday to dismiss the civil lawsuit filed by the 144 survivors, most of whom have spoken here this week. A university who cares more about their brand than the human lives they impact. An entity that even with overwhelming evidence thrown in their faces for years elected to do nothing. An institution that has utterly distanced themselves from your victims and now distances themselves from you as well. An institution that is, until yesterday, not even represented in this courtroom. This brings me to the second purpose of today. You. You have caused me and my family an immeasurable amount of pain and suffering, but I’m not going to belabor the details since you’ll be getting plenty and hearing plenty from other victims. What I will tell you, or perhaps it hasn’t been said yet, you are going to rot in federal prison and we will move on, all of us. One by one we will move past this, take strength and power from it, and march forward without you.
As you deteriorate in prison I want you to remember that you lose. In the beginning of our lives you tried to rob us of our will, our dignity as women, our ability to trust, our capacity for love, and our strength, and we have since risen to face you and witness you fall at the end of yours.
As you live out the rest of your days in prison, know that you will be left behind in darkness alone. You will be remembered as nothing more than a footnote on the pages of this new chapter in women’s history in which we bravely take back our will, our dignity, our trust, our love, our strength. Thank you, Your Honor.
MS. POLLMER: This is Katie’s statement. My name is Katherine Payne.
My mother, Mary Fisher Pollmer who is reading this to you right now has three children, a son and two daughters. Those two daughters, my sister Maureen and I, were sexually molested and raped as children by the person who sits before us today.
To the brave women who were able to speak and to those who were not, know that you are not and will never be alone. There are more of us than we will ever know, and in the darkest of your days when the pain feels inescapable and you feel the loneliness and hopelessness that results from rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and abuse of any type, we are all here with you and for you.
To those of you who are no longer with us because your suffering was too great, we will forever be here for you as we know you are forever here for us. We are women and children. We are victims of pain and suffering from rape, sexual molestation, and sexual assault. But we are also survivors. Whether in person or in spirit, we are alive.
The following song by Nina Simone is for us. It is for everyone in this courtroom. This is for all victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and loss. This is for my mother who is reading this right now. This is for my father, my sister, my brother, my nieces and nephew. My family. I love you. Thank you for keeping me alive when my suffering was so great that I didn’t want to keep living.
This is also for the person who first taught me to speak out, speak up, and not be ashamed, Mark Payne. I miss you every day. We must forever fight tyranny and never give up. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you. Are you going to play that?
MS. LIDDELL: I’m going to.
THE COURT: Okay.
MS. POLLMER: She wants to share that with everyone.
THE COURT: All right. I’ll stay a few minutes after that before we go off the record. This song will not be part of the record. Ms. Hamlin couldn’t possibly take it down. She probably could but it’s a separate record.
You may proceed.
(DVD played at 4:22 p.m.)
THE COURT: Thank you. That was a lovely song, especially in this moment. Thank your daughters for me, Katie and Maureen.
And first as to Maureen, defendant will be less than a footnote but a big lesson we will all have learned about helping those who cry out and need help and need protection, and both your daughters are part of that, and this song that Katie has sent to us is really a message that he can’t take away anything. They’ve regained their life, their voice. They are strong in body, mind, and soul, and he is weak.
They’ve not lost anything. They’ve regained it by being here, by having you as a parent, by following through with their good, strong hearts.
I hear for sentencing what you and your daughters want. I listened to the voice of their mother —
MS. POLLMER: Thank you.
THE COURT: — as you read it and the passion, and so I know that your daughters have a strong mother and role model. They also have a voice in this court.
MS. POLLMER: Thank you, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And I really thank you for speaking out, speaking up, and your daughters’ strengths shows that there’s nothing to be ashamed about. It is defendant that should be ashamed, and like the song says, they have their mouth.
MS. POLLMER: That’s right.
THE COURT: They’re going to keep talking and making it a better world, and I honor them for that and all of the survivors. Thank you so much.
MS. POLLMER: Thank you, Your Honor.