date of testimony: January 22th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
I am previously known as Jane B 44 Doe. I stand before you today with shame, embarrassment, and guilt. I find this difficult to start. There are no words that can adequately describe how I’m feeling. The emotions are overwhelming.
I recently as of last Tuesday decided to come forward publicly before this courtroom. I have had sleepless nights, days of feeling nauseous, and I have cried more tears than I care to admit.
Up until that point I imagined this whole thing was some mistake, something like living a dream as more and more girls came forward and continue to come forward to state what happened to them in the last two decades.
As a competitive gymnast for 15 years, I started at Great Lakes Gymnastics Club. In the back room of Walter French, Larry had his area set up for us to get our ankles taped, ice our sore muscles and injuries, talk about life, training, and really anything.
I knew Larry before he and Stephanie got married and had kids. I knew him before his brother passed away. I knew him before he helped Kerri Strug off the floor of the 1996 Olympic games.
I remember seeing him on t.v. and thinking, wow, I’m so lucky to have Larry available to help me. With my visits to the back room at GLGC he created a place to hang out for a minute, regroup if you were having a bad day, grab a bag of ice, to check my knees and tape my ankles. He established a bond. He was our confidant. He was our friend. And I remember him telling me that he was my advocate. That he would stand up for me to my coaches and to my mom if I couldn’t. He was looking out for us.
Having Larry at our disposal for our injuries was almost an honor. We all thought how lucky we are to have him available to go see. He was world-renowned. Everyone in the gymnastics community knew Larry. He is or was the guru of sports medicine for our sport.
I saw Larry for low back pain at MSU Sports Medicine. Treatments included vaginal penetration to treat my low back pain. During treatments one hand would be on my low back massaging, pressing and one hand would be between my legs with his fingers inside me. I would cry. I would cry because it hurt. It felt like he was ripping my vagina apart. He would say, I know it hurts. Yes, it did hurt.
With my mom in the room he would perform these treatments. He would see tears leaking out of my eyes and make comments like, I have to get really deep in there and I can tell it’s very tight. I thought nothing of it. I was being seen by the best. I trusted him and I trusted the treatment.
I now question the intent of the comments he made. His words haunt me. Was he referring to my back, or to my vagina?
I have struggled with reliving these appointments, with putting my feelings into words, sharing my emotion and trying to process what happened. I trusted Larry. I believed he knew what he was doing despite me being uncomfortable. I believed the treatment would work and be beneficial.
I never told anyone what happened. I was embarrassed that a doctor went to those lengths to treat me, and as time passed, I was in denial over these treatments being sexual abuse or molestation because he was the gymnastics doctor.
When the pornography was found on his disposed computers I questioned my impression of the situation, but still in my mind to some extent I defended him. People would ask me if I knew him. I would simply say, yes, and then quickly change the subject so I didn’t have to answer any further questions.
People would make small talk about the latest news article and I would walk away in hope that they had forgotten I was once a gymnast. It wasn’t until my brother saw an article and sent me a text asking me if Larry had ever treated me or done these things to me. I simply replied yes.
This was in 2017, and at that point I still had no intention of coming forward. I didn’t want to be another Jane Doe on the list. But as everything unfolded before my eyes, like a really bad Lifetime original movie based on true events, I gained some courage. After watching a few of my former teammates step up and say that this had happened to them also, I gained a little more.
I am still ashamed this happened to me and I can’t help but think how this has impacted my life personally and professionally.
Your Honor, I would like to address the defendant directly now, if I may?
THE COURT: You may.
MS. SYROVY: Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know? Did you keep track? Do you know the number keeps rising? And that’s only the girls that are actually coming forward. How is it, Larry, that your secret was kept for so long? I have reflected on this and the only thing I have come up with to make sense is the following: As a competitive gymnast we are trained to hide emotion, to control our feelings, and keep a level head, show no fear. You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position, the all mighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you, Larry.
Shame on you.
We trusted you were doing the right thing. We trusted you were making us better when it was really for your own sexual gratification. How selfish.
We all gave up so much as kids to spend time in the gym, school dances and football games, pep rallies, and just being kids spending time with our friends. Our love was gymnastics. We were dedicated to it, and we sacrificed so much to engage in the sport we love.
When in reality, we sacrificed a lot more, didn’t we? Our innocence, our trust in doctors and medical professionals that would later transfer into adulthood, and our trust in organizations and institutions to keep us safe.
They certainly didn’t stand up for us.
They stood up for you. They stood behind you. They safeguarded you when people spoke out. MSU did nothing to stop this. The earliest assault according to reports was in 1992. How is that? How is it that you had so much clout in your profession that MSU, USAG, USOC all turned a blind eye to what was going on when initial complaints came in?*
How did word not spread? How did it not work its way up the chain of command? What kind of relationships did you form with the presidents and administrators of these institutions that they stuck by you and swept all this under the rug?
Well, guess what, Larry? None of them are standing behind you now. They are all trying to deny any responsibility as if they never swept anything under the rug at all. They enabled this mess that you started some 20 years ago. With that you have tainted the sport I love, we love. You have made it so that I am embarrassed to tell people I was a gymnast. I am embarrassed to tell people that I went to Great Lakes and Twistars. Now that doesn’t mean what it used to. Now it means follow up questions, like, were you one of them? Not, what level were you? You have torn apart the gymnastics world, but look at us, Larry, look at all of us. We are here putting it together, trying to make sense of what you did and salvage the sport.
I hope your name is never brought up ever again. I hope your name is not tied to gymnastics.
I hope your kids don’t have to suffer in the shadow of what you did. I hope Stephanie can find peace. I know that I find no fault with her.
You were MSU’s biggest kept secret, and even when it finally did come out, Rachael had one hell of a time. In a statement you said, I am so horribly sorry. Then why did it go on for 20 years? You’re only sorry because you got caught.
Today I will not cry anymore. I am done.
I am fed up with the magnitude to which this tragedy has spiraled into. You are a disaster.
Your Honor, I trust that you will take into consideration the damage this man has caused and the people and organizations that allowed and facilitated his practice of these treatments he performed.
I would like to call out Lou Anna Simon for her cowardly behavior. Her lack of attendance to these proceedings shows just how much she really cares, sitting from the sidelines, being a bystander, just like she did while reports surfaced. She certainly isn’t showing any support for us. She is a coward and doesn’t deserve to hold the title as MSU president. Her recent behavior and comments are a joke. The least she could do is step down from her position and show us a little courtesy. That is a relatively minor action considering everything that we have gone through.
Every time I see her face or her name I am disgusted at her lack of empathy. Her statements are nothing more than apologetic correct words strung together to save face. It’s not heartfelt. It’s not meaningful. In reports she is quoted as saying, I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows. Okay, Lou Anna, then why when these allegations surfaced in the ’90s was he not fired then? Why did MSU continue to employ Larry? He wore MSU affiliated shirts. He had an office in
MSU Sports Medicine. He had business cards with MSU Sports Medicine letterhead. Heyou’re your employee, and MSU should be responsible for his actions as the employer; under their roof, in their halls, on their campus.
MSU is also responsible for Kathie Klages turning a blind eye. At least she had the decency to retire. According to reports she turned a blind eye to concerns that were brought up to her by members of the gymnastics team. She is just as much at fault.
Our parents turned us over to Larry, willingly surrounded us to his care, and look what happened. Look what happened. Look what this has become. Girls came forward and told an adult, the adult didn’t listen. Why didn’t they listen? What good is it to teach children to tell an adult if the grown up doesn’t listen, doesn’t take action? As coaches and officials governing our sport, why did they fail us?
It boggles my mind that reports came out to MSU and they failed to investigate it. Then communication failed between MSU and USAG and USOC. Again, a disconnect. Is anyone even here from USAG, USOC? Did they care? Is there any representative here from either one of those organizations looking at our faces, seeing us stand before a courtroom reliving the details? I just want to know if any of these major institutions are standing behind us or if they all are on the sidelines trying to alleviate any responsibility, because it sure feels like that’s the case.
Your Honor, I would like to close with a sincere thank you. Thank you to you and the courts on behalf of myself and all the other girls for taking the time to hear each and every one of us. I am thankful that you are here and you are providing a platform for us as you determine your ruling. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you. I want you to know I see your face and the face of all of the sister survivor warriors, the whole army of you. I heard your words, and you are going through incomprehensible lengths, soul searching to put your words together to publicly stop defendant, to publicly stop predators, to make people listen.
He’s the one that needs to be ashamed.
Release the shame, embarrassment, guilt that you said you have here and now. Again, like I said before, shovel it at him.
You are an advocate for all victims, all survivors. Your strength, your courage, your words will haunt him. He may not ever admit that, but I think there’s going to be a reel of all of your collective words in his cell, because I doubt he’ll have many visitors except the nightmares that you all bring him. Release your nightmares. Be proud of yourself. Stand tall. Because the army of sister survivors and the world stands behind you, and you need to remember that wherever you go.
Thank you so much for being here. It’s my honor to have you here.
MS. SYROVY: Thank you, judge.