date of testimony: January 22th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity, Your Honor.
I’m here today previously known as victim B to tell my story about my child abuse. I feel that many of the things I’m going to say are similar to what has already been said by 100 other victims. We know there are well over that many. We cannot dilute the importance of each of our stories.
Most importantly, the defendant; I don’t want you to forget each and every one of us that came here to tell our stories of what you have done to us.
You wrote a pitiful letter mistakenly thinking that Judge Aquilina would actually care that you had concerns about being able to mentally handle four days of impact statements. Maybe you should have thought of that before you molested all of us.
What about our mental state, having to go through all of this, not only for four days of listening to impact statements and tragic stories of our friends, but for the rest of our lives? How dare you think anyone cares about your mental state.
Here we are. You made it through those four days and now you’re listening to me. I sure as hell know that my mental state wasn’t ready for something like this, but while my mind heals and filters out the evil sickness that you unwillingly bestowed upon my body, your mind will get darker and darker and you will hate yourself almost as much as everyone hates you in this room right now.
I hope that you remember how strong we looked up here while we stood with our army and the world behind us and you sat unable to speak in a room full of people who despise your existence.
You should get used to what this feels like because no longer is anyone going to listen to you and your manipulating lies.
You’ve ruined and compromised so many young women, and now we are here to ruin you. It’s like Kyle said, we don’t stay little girls forever, defendant, and I’m certain you will never forget that.
My story with the defendant started when I was in fourth grade doing two-a-day training at Twistars. As I was getting higher in level it was inevitable that an injury would be more prone.
My parents were told about this incredible, world-renowned doctor who came to our gym for free every Monday night. He was the doctor to see. I wasn’t allowed to see anyone else. It was highly suggested to see him and not my family physician, and when things were suggested at Twistars, that means it’s mandatory.
It started simple with shin splints and forearm splints, minor injuries like these. He was nice, instantly talking to me like he had known me forever. I did not really get to know him, though, until sixth grade when I fell from high bar approximately set at eight to nine feet high landing directly on my head breaking my neck in four places and my C1 and C2.
John Geddert came over to me after the fall as I laid there in pain. He asked me to sit up and I could hardly handle — could hardly manage on my own so he helped me upright. He felt along my spine, and with competition season ahead, he proceeded to tell me it was most likely a muscle injury. He then told me to ice and finish the next two hours of practice in splits. At the end of practice my teammates had to help me dress and I went home. Later I laid on the couch and could not get up myself. My parents rushed me to the hospital only to find out I was lucky to not have been paralyzed, especially after being moved immediately after my fall. The doctor at the hospital explained to me one little shift in the wrong direction when I stood up or sat in splits would have easily caused my paralysis and that I was a miracle.
This story in detail is not only important to highlight the negligence of John Geddert, but to draw a map for how the defendant found my weakness and found out how he could get inside my — how he could get on my side and gain my trust.
I remember when the defendant heard what happened he consoled me. He told me how angry he was with John. He explained to me that he did not follow protocol by me — by not immediately calling the ambulance for me.
He told me that he was going to yell at him about how he handled my fall and make sure he never did this again. I felt like he was my hero. He was going to yell at John for mishandling me.
He then expressed how sorry he was for what happened and we exchanged phone numbers in case I ever needed anything.
From then on he always asked me how John was treating me, and I really thought the defendant cared. I really thought you were on my side, and I really thought that you cared about the abuse that he inflicted on all of us. You knew about all of it because you acted like our friend. But his abuse was your fuel. You used his abuse to mask your own pathetic pleasure. You used my child-like vulnerability as your access to gain my trust in you, and that is something I will never forget.
It’s clear that in an environment like Twistars a monster like the defendant could thrive. He just had to be the nice guy so that all these young girls would look at him as the savior.
This was the tactic he used, and now trust in good people has escaped me. Now when an older male is being nice to me in any way, my heart starts to pound and I begin to sweat, hardly able to focus because my mind is jumping around, whether I can trust this man and what his intentions are for being nice to me. Now I feel when the older man looks at me in the eye he’s thinking of me in a sexual way. But this is just anxiety that you have caused and I realize this. I realize they’re not you, and I believe some day I will have better control over these anxieties with time.
After I broke my neck I was out of gymnastics for about eight months. I then competed the next two and a half years and in eighth grade going into ninth I began to have major lower back problems. I expressed my pain to John but it was never enough. It was just never enough. It was to the point that if I fell and something internal was hurting, I would hope to God that I would bruise just to have visible proof that I was hurting so he would just believe me.
I did a tumbling pass during my floor routine and I landed on my face due to my back giving me so much pain. John got in my face screaming, telling me to do splints on vault runway as I was visibly limping from the pain.
Later that night I saw the defendant and I told him about what happened. I then had an MRI and, sure enough, my back was broken at my lumbar five. I was put in a back brace for the next year.
And I might point out at the time there were at least eight more gymnasts that were my teammates in back braces. I don’t think other gyms would have looked at this as something normal.
This is where my sexual abuse started. I remember the first time it happened. You were massaging my back as normal and then without warning or explanation you stuck your ungloved fingers into my vagina. While it was happening you said it was a medical treatment, that it would help my back. You closed your eyes and continued talking to me like nothing was happening, but for me a lot was happening in my mind. No one had ever touched me like this before. I thought to myself, aren’t my parents supposed to give you consent first? This is the gymnastics world, though, things aren’t by the book.
Plus, they wouldn’t understand.
But isn’t it weird that he’s not wearing gloves? I wonder if he does this to the other girls? And why is he closing his eyes? He’s a doctor, though, so I’m sure it’s fine. Plus, he’s been so nice to me, and someone with his name I can obviously trust, right? I was so uncomfortable the whole time I didn’t know how to act. I was just wondering when he was going to be finished.
When he did finally stop I asked my teammates about this treatment. They reassured me that it did, too, happen to them. Most all of them, actually. But still every appointment I dreaded because of how uncomfortable it was, but I figured I was at Twistars, this was supposed to be a safe place.
The defendant was the guy to vent to and be true with everything. He made it seemed like he would do anything he could to help me, even inviting me to his house. Just because I did not like the treatment did not mean I shouldn’t have it done.
That’s what I thought to be true. He said it was the best way to fix my back.
But my back never felt any better. It got to the point I told you that it felt better just so I did not have to sit on a table with your fingers going into my vagina anymore. Maybe if I told you it was better you would just rub my back and give me exercises instead.
But even when my back never healed, you told me in the doctor’s office at MSU that you dropped the ball on me and that you let me slide under your radar, and, unfortunately, if I wanted to be able to walk some day that I had to quit gymnastics. The saddest part is that you telling me was music to my ears. I would finally have a good enough reason to tell John that I quit without him pressuring me or making me feel like I did not have a choice. I would finally not have your treatments anymore. I was free, and it was over for me. And now look at me, up here dropping the ball on you, but I have definitely not let you slide under my radar.
Looking back now as a woman I am appalled at what my child self went through. It’s appalling.
I have had people close to me ask me why I never told anyone or act surprised or confused that no one ever spoke up. Do you know what that’s like to be asked questions like this? To those people I want to say, how dare you. How dare you have the audacity to ask anyone such a shaming question. No one ever has the right to ask a victim of sexual abuse why they never said anything. Unless it happened to you, have the common sense to know it is none of your business.
Unless it happened to you, you probably wouldn’t understand anyways.
For the last draining year and a half I had to sit behind my computer quietly watching as much of the community and some of my old friends supported the defendant and said we were lying. It took 37,000 pornographic images for people to believe, and you wonder why no one spoke up.
But then as the story expanded we find out that multiple people did tell MSU, USAG, and John Geddert, yet nothing was done and, again, I say you wonder why we kept our mouth shut?
I can tell you, I told my sister, and she thought it was very weird, but she wasn’t brainwashed, I was. I told her not to tell anyone, not even my parents. I knew no one would understand and I needed to get better. I was in so much pain.
Unless you are a gymnast, no one understands the gymnastics world. Unless you knew the defendant, you didn’t understand the way he acted as our savior.
Things weren’t always by the book in gymnastics. You do what you’re told, you see who you’re supposed to see, you don’t talk back, and you most certainly don’t ask questions about this amazing doctor that you’re supposed to feel lucky to have.
I figured John knew. We were his athletes in his gym. He was supposed to know what the defendant was doing for our treatment. He was supposed to discuss our treatments with him.
Instead, he wasn’t even there. He was on his way home while we stayed at his gym sometimes until 12 waiting to be molested one by one unknowingly. How irresponsible, selfish, and neglectful.
What this has done to me since the news broke. I have always had perfectionist problems and overwhelming anxiety that takes hold of me when I don’t do something right or when I don’t perform perfectly on something like a test. The mind games I play with myself, bullying myself until I cry myself to sleep feeling incompetent, uprooting through my past in gymnastics, but since this came out I noticed my control over this has gotten much worse. I have kept many of my struggles through this quiet and to myself, crying myself to sleep more often than I want to admit, trying to remember more so that I can understand myself why I never told my parents, trying to figure out how I became so brainwashed to not realize it was abuse at the time. I’ve had graphic nightmares about the defendant and about others trying to sexually abuse me, paralyzed in my sleep, locked in the back room at Twistars unable to scream while he puts his hands on me again. Other dreams of him molesting little babies as the guilt I have rises when I think of the girls even younger than I was at the time. Why did I not see it for what it was? We were all so young.
I used to have a sense of confidence in myself when going out with friends, but now I can’t properly enjoy my time as I’m too aware of my surroundings, worried about the older men in the room who all seem to be staring at me, and now I feel I know what they’re thinking and the anxiety is so bad I just have to leave.
It is hard to trust men in authority. I no longer see my regular male doctor, as that felt like a joke to me. I switched to a woman.
I sat in the waiting room of my chiropractor as my heart began to race as fast as it would have after just running a marathon unable to fathom the thought of another male doctor having to touch my body to help my back. It all felt too familiar. I have not been back or seen another doctor for my back since.
I cannot run for exercise because my sciatic nerve and arthritis in my back flares up so bad I find myself unable to walk for the next five days due to the pain. The pain connects all the way down to my knee and flares during most physical activity. It really must have been some treatment, and it really must have been the best way to heal my back. I can’t even run and I’m 22 years old. Do you know what that feels like?
I’m so angry and depressed over this thinking that if I had a different doctor that maybe I would be able to run today, maybe I would have been treated properly so that when I sit down for 20 minutes my legs don’t go numb and tingly, and today when I know I should see a doctor for my back, the anxiety of meeting another doctor for all of this is too much and I put it off and I put it off.
I stressed over my school schedule this last semester doing what I could to make sure my professors were all females. The psychology class I took was only taught by a male so I took it online, but only I knew those thoughts that have been kept in my mind. I did not want to admit to myself or anyone else that this was actually changing my outlook on things this drastically. I do not want to let this hold me back, but I know I’m going to have to ease back slowly.
It’s unfair what you have taken from all of us. You don’t deserve a fair nor peaceful ending to your life. You deserve the maximum sentence available, and that is what I’m asking of you, Judge Aquilina, and I have no doubt that you will do what’s right.
I remember how afraid I was when I had to testify in Eaton County, coming face to face with the defendant and his counsel for the first time.
I remember how absolutely stunned and confused I was to be sitting there being questioned by a grown woman about this monster molesting me as a young girl.
That was a ground shattering moment for me. I looked back at my attorneys, these incredible heroes who are honorable, diligent, empowering warriors in support of women who will go down in history with all these words as their purple hearts for saving us and fighting for the right cause, but then I looked at you, Shannon, and you’re not even here today for me to look you in the eye as you so aggressively questioned me, a young girl, and wondered what possessed you to defend this man? What made you waste your hard work in law school on this despicable case? I watched these statements all week and the camera turned to you and the defendant multiple times. I even saw the two of you smile.
MS. BLYTHE: Your Honor, I’m going to have to ask…
MS. POVILAITIS: Is she really objecting to this victim at this point?
MS. BLYTHE: It would be inappropriate to direct questions and comments at defense counsel.
THE COURT: Well, defense counsel has a job to do. She can comment on it. I think you have thick enough skin to let it go where it should. Thank you.
MS. BLYTHE: Thank you.
MS. LORENCEN: I even saw the two of you smile and you so gently placed your hand on his shoulder as if consoling this monster. I am so confused by your career path and I do not respect you or your choices. I will choose to be a role model to my children and young women just like Angie, Robyn, Andrea, and now Judge Aquilina have been for me and forever will be. So thank you.
The defendant will spend the rest of his days in prison. We have won this first battle, but our war is not over.
MSU knows what they have coming. You know you enabled and are accountable for ignoring complaints in the past, so I gladly say good-bye, Lou Anna Simon. Your time as president will be over, and shame on you for not listening to young women. I hope you spend the rest of your days thinking about your nine to 16 year old self and how it would have felt to be sexually assaulted and speak out about it only to be turned down. I actually plan on finishing my college career at MSU and I better have a new president by the time I get there next fall.
To USAG, I’m utterly saddened that defendant has caused the sport of gymnastics to be tied to the weight of sexual abuse and child molestation. I am more disgusted that you knew of this and failed to act when you should have. You have failed to keep the sport of gymnastics safe and with the name it deserves.
Gymnastics is a great sport, and there are absolutely incredible coaches out there. They know who they are. They will be the ones to save this sport, and I have no doubt about that.
To John Geddert, you, however, are not one of these great coaches. There is no excuse for you not knowing what was happening in your gym except for inexcusable neglect and lack of leadership. I have always told myself that for everything you put me through you will have what’s coming. I do not believe you deserve to have your gym still and I don’t understand why anyone would still want to train there, especially knowing that in that back room dungeon hundreds of your athletes were being molested.
To the Olympians, I thank you for coming forward, being so brave, knowing how much more the names — your names would have been in the media. I can’t imagine the pressure you felt knowing how much I felt myself, and I need to say this to you all that your legacy of Olympians will not go down with the Larry Nassar case. You will not be remembered as the Olympians that were molested by Larry Nassar but as the gymnasts who are not only Olympians but also heroes. He will not compromise your title that you worked so hard for and we will not let him
And to the defendant, you ended up right where you always liked to be, number one sports medicine doctor, number one gymnastics doctor in the country, and now you’re the world’s number one child molesting pedophile that has ever been discovered.
Now you will go where you should have been a long time ago.
Thank you. That’s all I have to say.
THE COURT: The military has not yet come up with fiber as strong as you. You performed perfectly today.
MS. LORENCEN: Thank you.
THE COURT: You said you’re always worried about performing, not measuring up. You are outstanding.
MS. LORENCEN: Thank you.
THE COURT: And your words are a miracle. Your voice, no sister survivor warriors’ voice goes undiluted here. We’ve heard your message. I’ve heard your message in regard to sentencing, and let me tell you, your voice and all of your sister survivor warriors strengthen each other, so I am hoping that your anxiety, your nightmares, you leave it here in this courtroom, put it behind you and go out and spread the message as you have done today, because you’re helping so many. You are a hero. You are all super stars. You’re the new generation of super heroes, and I want you to always feel that way. You are part of an unstoppable army of strong sister survivor warriors, and Mattel ought to make toys so little girls can look at you and say, I want to be her. Thank you so much for being here and for your strength.
MS. LORENCEN: Thank you.
THE COURT: You’re just getting better and better. Leave all that crap here.
MS. LORENCEN: I will.
THE COURT: Okay.
MS. LORENCEN: I plan on it.
THE COURT: Congratulations, ma’am.
MS. LORENCEN: Thank you so much.