date of testimony: January 19th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of first abuse: 16
date of first abuse: 1998
additional statements by her father
Honorable Judge Aquilina, first I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the person who abused me. I hope and pray with everything inside of me that this will help me move on and forward in my healing process.
The crimes that Larry Nassar committed against me have altered my life forever. I first met him when I was a teenager at Spartan Youth Gymnastics. I trained at Jenison Fieldhouse, the same facility where the Michigan State University gymnasts trained. I felt honored to train at the same gym as the college gymnasts that I looked up to.
I felt privileged to be part of a program that was run by Kathie Klages, a woman who coached those gymnasts that I looked up to. I dreamed to some day be one of those girls and compete for MSU. In fact, Kathie even told my parents that I had the potential to make it onto the team.
I still remember the first time I met you, Larry, because it was in the middle of a gymnastics practice. It was during a time that John Geddert had left Great Lakes Gymnastics and many of the other gymnasts followed him. While he was looking for a new gym to open under his own name, he and the girls that followed him came to work out with us at Jenison Fieldhouse, and you were there, I think, on Monday nights every week.
What I did not realize at the time was that John, Kathie, and Larry had been close friends and had an incestuous relationship since their college days. They had each other’s backs no matter what. Larry had adults on his side protecting him, enabling his abuse, and helping him achieve a God-like status; a truth I wish I would have known back then.
I remember the Twistars girls would tell me, you’re really, really special if you get invited over to Larry’s house for treatments. I naively longed to be invited to his house because I wanted to feel like I was on the inside circle, one of the special ones.
He had connections to the Olympics. Why would I question his authority or his intentions when he was revered as the best sports medicine doctor around? He had a God-like status in the gymnastics world. He knew this and took full advantage of it. He used gifts, charm, MSU connections, his status as an Olympic doctor to groom and prey on his victims, and I was one of them.
I recall Larry always being very casual with his conversations, asking me about my sex life and how often I gave my boyfriend a blow job. Even though I told him I was not sexually active, he still insisted that I must do it all the time. I remember thinking, if I asked him, would he tell me and show me how to do that? What kind of doctor talks that way with their patients? What kind of doctor talks to minors this way? Someone who is not a real doctor. Someone who is sick and twisted. I thought you were just trying to be funny and connect with me, but that is not what you were doing.
Nassar would call me — tell me to call him and him only if I ever needed anything. Not to call the medical office but to page him directly, back when there were pagers, and he would call me back and help me with anything I needed. I thought it was because he truly cared about me as a person, because — but I was utterly deceived. It was only because he did not want his gruesome behavior to be exposed.
As time went on he started making subtle physical advancements during my office visits. He would unhook my bra without warning so he could have full access to evaluate and massage my entire back, or at least as a child that is the reason I assumed he did it. He would conveniently brush his hands down the sides of my body and touch my nipples. I rationalized this behavior as him not realizing how close he got to sensitive areas because I was a physically underdeveloped girl. It seemed like at each visit he pushed the physical boundaries a little more so that I did not notice or really understand what was happening.
I remember one particular incident it got to the vile point where he turned the lights off, removed his belt while making grunting noises and sounds like he was masturbating while inserting his ungloved finger inside of me. I remember trying to get up off of that table because I felt so uncomfortable, but you nervously laughed and pushed my head back down and told me not to move.
I felt trapped. I was stuck. I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream for help. The only reason the abuse stopped that day was because an employee knocked on the door. I remember sitting up quickly looking back at you, seeing your untucked shirt while wiping your hands off on a towel. You then tossed the towel at me and answered the door after tucking your — your shirt back into your pants. I was once again defeated.
Another horrific memory of the abuse that took place was in the basement of Jenison Fieldhouse during one of my gymnastics practices. He would tell me to come see him whenever I was there. He would tell me when he would be there after hours after all the trainers would leave and tell me to come down and see him. He carried around a little manila folder pretending like it was legitimate medical files of his encounters with me. Where that is now, I do not know.
After this one particular disturbing incident of abuse I felt dirty and disgusting. As soon as I returned to the gym after enduring the abuse at the hands of Larry Nassar I chalked up my hands and parts of my body to cover up what had just happened. I had become his real life pornography subject, his play thing and experiment.
I saw Nassar for at least four years, based on my recorded medical charts, charts that I had requested from MSU Sports Medicine when this all came out but instead I was told they had no record of me being a patient with them. They would not even give me my own records. Thankfully, Detective Andrew Munford worked her magic and was able to obtain my medical records. I had seen him over a hundred times, and the vast majority of those times he abused me. Even when I had knee and ankle injuries he always seemed to get to my back and abuse me.
My thinking was so warped and confused as I had rewired my thought process to believe I was wrong for thinking of things sexually. Years after first meeting Nassar and enduring his abuse I graduated from Michigan State University. I then applied for physical therapy school and Larry was one of the ones that wrote me a letter of recommendation for the doctoral program. I don’t know if you remember that.
THE DEFENDANT: I remember.
MS. BOYCE: It’s possible that moving away from the East Lansing area was one of the best things that happened to me to get out of his hands of abuse.
I have experienced a tremendous amount of pain and damage as a result of the crimes Nassar has committed.
Over the past years I have endured many physical manifestations as a result of the trauma of his abuse. After I heard the first allegations my body started to attack itself. I became physically ill with shingles at the age of — how old was I? 35. Migraines, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, insomnia, and nightmares. I, too, have woken up drenched in sweat. I, too, have woken up crying in the middle of sleeping having a nightmare of the abuse I endured, nightmares of MSU silencing me over and over and over again.
I have four beautiful children and many days over this past year my ability to run my household has been impaired. Many days it has been painful to even get out of bed. I am tired and some days I just want to sleep, sleep away the pain, the memories, the flashbacks that haunt me.
Doing ordinary household chores and just being a mom and a wife takes an enormous amount of strength and determination to push past the agony I am persisting through.
My four children and husband have only had pieces of me this year. They deserve better. My heart hurts. My body hurts. My mind hurts. My family hurts. My entire life has been affected.
There was even one day that I thought about ending my own life, but thankfully I have hope in God and his love for me and the peace he gives.
Slowly this past year I began to realize that I was conditioned to believe a lie and that Larry Nassar’s actions toward me were, in fact, sexual abuse. I cannot express the amount of hurt and betrayal that I felt knowing his intention — your intention was selfish and evil. I was not protected by the adults I trusted.
His actions did not only affect me, they affected everybody in my family.
I ask that you sentence Larry Nassar to the maximum amount of time based on the plea deal that he agreed to. I’m only one person out of thousands of lives who have been negatively affected by him. My story is only one account of the damage his actions have done to a life with family, friends, and careers.
Larry Nassar, it is difficult to comprehend and understand the emotions that I am feeling today. I have finally begun to acknowledge the painful reality that I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse and that you, Larry, are the abuser. This does not define me, but it’s a part of my story and a beast that I will continue to battle.
You see me here today as Larissa Boyce. I am standing here as a woman of strength and resilience and of courage that I never knew existed inside of me
When you first met me I was Larissa Michell, a competent but vulnerable trusting 16 year old gymnast whose dream was to make it on the MSU college gymnastics team. You were going to help me get there.
I remember feeling awestruck at my first appointment with you as I looked at all the pictures on the walls of you and the gymnasts I idolized; a common theme. I could not believe how lucky I was to have the privilege of seeing you. You were the one who helped Kerri Strug after her injury at the 1996 Olympics.
The sad truth is that you actually made me think that you cared about my well-being as a child, as an individual. I felt just as important as the Olympians you treated. I thought you saw my worth as a human being. I thought you believed in me. Not only that, you made it seem as if you cared about other areas of my life.
Children want to know that they are accepted and loved for who they are and that they are special and worth your time. Children want to be seen and heard. I thought you heard me. I thought you had my back, but you knew this and you took full advantage of it for your own sick pleasures.
I want you to know that I am not that same person that you met when I was a child. I am no longer naive. My eyes have been opened to the monster you tried to hide in the shadows.
Through this horrific process I have struggled with feeling sorry for you. I saw the good sides, at least I thought I did. I finally realize that you made these choices to hurt so many little girls. You have brought these consequences upon yourself, and you have to live with the affects of them, just as I will have to live with the pain, betrayal, and heartache you caused when you put your selfish desires ahead of my well-being.
And the disturbing truth is you could have been stopped back in 1997. You know that a teammate and I brought concerns about what you were doing to Kathie Klages on the same night. She was a person I looked up to. She was a person I thought had my back. But instead of notifying authorities or even my parents, we were interrogated. Imagine that. I don’t know if she told you about that night, but she interrogated us. We were led to believe that we were misunderstanding a medical technique. Do you know how she came to that conclusion? Was it when she called you and talked to you about it? She conducted her own unqualified investigation. She humiliated and silenced me as she began to call in all of my Spartan Youth teammates into her office. While I sat there in humiliation, she asked them in small groups if they ever felt uncomfortable with the treatments from you. All but the one other girl said no.
There was one more who had experienced the same abuse. Do you remember who that was, Larry? She already spoke to you the other day.
Kathie continued her interrogation of us by pulling the MSU college level gymnasts into the office. She left the room. We sat on the green carpet in her office talking to these girls that we looked up to. Can you even for one second begin to imagine the humiliation I felt when the college gymnasts came into Kathie’s office to explain their treatments with you?
I told somebody. I told an adult. I told Michigan State University back in 1997. Instead of being protected, I was humiliated, I was in trouble, and brainwashed into believing that I was the problem. This MSU employee then fed me back to you, the wolf, to continue to be devoured.
Instead of taking the right steps to report my concerns, she betrayed my confidence. Do you remember talking to her? Do you remember when she called and told you about my concerns?
THE DEFENDANT: No.
MS. BOYCE: Was I the first person that brought issues of your abuse to light? How did you spin that? Kathie only empowered you by telling you that I spoke up about it. Had I known that you were such close friends I would have never told her. She put her friendship with you above all the concerns I had. She protected you over me, a child.
Kathie enabled and emboldened your pedophilia which only continued to allow you to prey on hundreds of innocent victims, many who are sitting in this room. They should not be here. Some weren’t even born yet.
I dreaded my next appointment with you because I was afraid that Kathie was going to tell you about my concerns, and, unfortunately, I was right. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and overwhelmed that I had talked to Kathie about this. I vividly remember when you walked into that room, closed the door behind you, pulled up your stool and sat down in front of me and said, so, I talked to Kathie.
As soon as I heard those words my heart sank. My confidence had been betrayed. I wanted to crawl into the deepest, darkest hole and hide. Instead, feeling trapped, I sat there listening to you explain away your abuse. Listening to you tell me that my intuitions were wrong. Listening to you take away any ounce of strength and confidence I had left.
Through this belittlement I felt the need to apologize to you. I apologized to you. I told you how sorry I was for the misunderstanding that happened and that it was all my fault. How do you think that made me feel? You then told me what you were doing was to help me, so to prove to you and myself that what you were doing and saying was the truth and I didn’t have a dirty mind, I hopped up on to that treatment table to allow you to continue treating rather abusing me.
That day the assault was different. I felt like you were mad at me. You were rough and you were harsh that day, more so than on any other appointment. I remember laying on the table in horror, humiliation, and disgust. I had been defeated. You remained in control of the situation and continued. You and Kathie silenced me. You took away my confidence. You took away my innocence, and you took away my voice.
But today is a new day. Today I am claiming my freedom from you. Today I am no longer bound by — I am breaking free from the chains you put me in 20 years ago.
MR. MICHELL: Yes.
MS. BOYCE: Today I am finally free. I am standing here reclaiming the voice that you stole from me. I am reclaiming my confidence. I am reclaiming the power that you took from me. I am reclaiming Larissa Michell, that innocent girl you abused. I am no longer that little girl. I am taking her back. I have the control now.
If only I could rewind time and speak to her, tell her that her intuitions were right, to put
on the armor of confidence, fight and keep speaking up until somebody listens to her. Oh, how things could have been different. Instead, we’re sitting here in this courtroom 20 years later. That little girl is still a piece of me, and now finally after 20 years she gets to see the truth
MS. BOYCE: I get to see the truth and justice finally prevail. 20 years of carrying this inside of me thinking I was the problem. No longer. Today I am able to say that you were the problem. You, Kathie, John Geddert, and the institutions like MSU, USAG, and Geddert’s beloved Twistars are the ones who enabled and protected you, and you know this. You were all a part of the problem. They enabled you with their negligence. It was not me. It was you.
Finally I am able to say that to your face.
I will say it again. You were the problem. I was not the problem. Lindsey was absolutely right when she said you pissed off the wrong army of women.
I am angry that you stole my innocence with your selfish and sick fetish. You ripped the sport I loved from my heart that first day you chose to gratify your own desires, ripped it from me. Without gymnastics I felt lost.
As a teenager I even had suicidal thoughts.
I would picture dragging my car into a tree. I prayed almost every night that God would take me home to heaven because I did not know where my pain was coming from. Last year I sought answers and explored my past after all of this started coming out. I came across a journal entry that I wrote during the time that you were abusing me. It was dated January 16, 1998. I had just turned 17, and I’m going to share that with you right now.
Slowly day by day it is creeping up on me, always one step closer to devouring my soul. I feel so unworthy of living and being happy. I am always feeling the guilt of something which gets heavier as each day passes. It’s almost as if I have a pile of bricks weighing down on my shoulders. Every day a new one is added on my weary back. I am tired of being so unhappy with things in my life right now. I even feel guilty for feeling guilty. I guess that I am just a mental case. Will these feelings change and leave me in peace, or will I have to live with this the rest of my life? I do everything wrong.
A 17-year-old girl wrote that. You see that dark place that she was in to have those words, have that buried inside of me?
I did not understand the pain I was feeling, but now it makes complete sense. You tore me apart with your selfish desires, but, like I said earlier, I am strong and I am really resilient. I will survive, and I choose to be stronger because of it.
You chose the wrong prey. We are athletes.
We will not give up or give in. We are trained to fight past the pain and hurt. United we are now, an army of amazing women who are paving the path to justice and change.
If you need more information on this, talk to Lindsey.
It’s fitting that you are currently wearing the shackles. Maybe now you have a slight picture of the inescapable prison you put me in 20 years ago. I thought I must have a dirty mind. Your disgusting actions destroyed my confidence, shattered any trust I had of my own intuitions. To this day I question every decision I make no matter how simple it may seem, but I am finally waking up. I am finally rediscovering the strength I have within myself.
I am remembering the woman God made me to be. I am not just going to survive through this, I will thrive.
It is crazy for me to fathom that you had the audacity to compare me and the other girls to alcoholism as if we were an innate lifeless drink to be consumed. You did try to consume. That statement showed that you truly have no clue about the way you hurt me and hundreds of other girls. We are not inanimate objects. We are real people with feelings and emotions. You will never truly realize or understand what you have done to harm me until you can grasp the truth that I am a human being with a life, a soul, a heart that beats, and a mind that remembers.
You may not remember me or the specific things you did to me, but I have not forgotten.
Through time my pain and sadness will get easier while yours gets harder. Right now it is like an open wound, but eventually it will heal and turn into a scar. I will not forget. I will remember, but it will not hurt as much, and I will be stronger. I am no longer going to be bound by the things you did to me or the way you betrayed my trust.
I am letting go of the hold you had in my mind. I am releasing you to God and his judgment. You are in his hands now. May you ponder that each and every day you wake up behind bars.
May you understand each day the imprisonment you subjected me and hundreds of other innocent girls to with your horrendous abuse.
Today I can finally say that I am free from the hold you had over me. Today I am seizing my power and control you took from me. I am free from the chains of abuse that bound me. May God have mercy on your soul.
MS. BOYCE: I do want to say that yesterday afternoon I received a Facebook message that stated to me, hell will be a very hot place for your lies about Larry Nassar. Shame on you. You’re probably getting even because he wouldn’t let you have your way with something. How ignorant, people. Just want to say that. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it.
Also, I asked Lou Anna Simon to be here for my statement. She told me she could not fit it in her schedule, and then I saw today there was a statement by MSU that said, MSU has been perceived to be tone deaf. Well, you are. I told you back in 1997. You knew back then, and every time you say you didn’t know you are reshaming, revictimizing, and calling me a liar.
The other day I asked — when I asked Simon for the favor, she said, I’ll just watch it on the live feed. How is that not tone deaf? How is that not doing anything to help the victims? That’s not doing anything. They say they’re doing things to help the victims. I’m sorry, MSU, if you’re listening, that right there shows that you’re tone deaf.
I pray that this creates a change and a wave of transparency so this never, ever has to happen again.
MS. BOYCE: Thank you.
THE COURT: Ma’am, thank you for your words. I’m not tone deaf. I heard every word. The world has heard every word, and your words are very clear and very brave, and your thinking has never been confused so at some point, I don’t know if you’ve done this already or not, and, no, I’m not a therapist, but I do know that you need to forgive that 16 year old, that girl who didn’t know because you trusted the wrong people, and that happens all the time to children, so your message is being delivered. We need to teach our children to question and re-question, and we need adults to speak loudly on behalf of children.
You have killed the beast that you were afraid of with your strength and with your words and you and the other survivors have exposed the beast defendant, through his own action. Not any judge’s bias, not for fun, not because we like to waste our time, but three judges will ensure, based on the law, based on all of your comments, which you all have a right to, the record that you’ve made is incredible, collectively, individually, and defendant will, because of judges and the law, be trapped in a small cell with bars.
He’s defeated. You are never defeated. You just didn’t know better. You do now. And other children now know better, too, because of your words.
MR. MICHELL: Yes.
THE COURT: Passing on that message is absolutely critical. I will pass it on like the federal judge did and Judge Cunningham will do. We will pass the message on in our sentencing, but I know that your voice and the voice of your loving family will never stop talking, and I am so honored that all of you have been here to speak, and thank you for the words, and the time that you spent agonizing over your words, it was time well spent.
[William Michell (father of Larisa)]
You’re an ex-doctor. When my wife and I first brought our daughter to you, Larissa, it was over 21 years ago. It was because the gymnast coach at MSU, Kathie Klages, personally told me that you were the best doctor in town, possibly in the country, because of your experience in dealing with gymnastics injuries, especially back injuries, and that you worked with Olympians.
Feeling that we were privileged to have our daughter see you, believing she would get the best possible care, we were confident that she would be able to compete again, especially after your reassurance and intervention.
Following many months of your treatment and therapy and after her workouts she came back to compete at a level nine. It was a great opportunity. She was so full — we were so full of hope. We were hoping that she was going to knock it out of the world. But something was wrong. Something was wrong, Larry. Enthusiasm and intensity which she previously displayed was missing. She was trying to put her heart — she was trying but her heart was no longer in it. Her performance at the meet was mediocre. It was not the girl we knew.
As I remember, she dropped out of gymnastics right after that and her attitude changed and she started becoming more defiant. She challenged our authority. She was pushing the limits. It seemed that other things were more important, her social life, school activities. She never competed.
She did get into pole vaulting and track, as it became a sport recognized for girls and, you know, in all of this, you know, as parents we had talked to her and we had wanted her best, and in our relationship with her she wore a promise ring, Larry. She wore a promise ring before God and us to symbolize her commitment to us and God. She unshamingly vocalized that to her friends.
At the end of the summer or beginning of fall 2016 Larissa started experiencing shingle-like symptoms, having all kinds of nervous anxiety, and physical ailments. This coincided with the stories about you and your abusive practices being published. I asked her if any of this — any of this, you know, had happened to her, and at first she denied it and defended you. And we heard this over and over again. What kind of control did you have?
She couldn’t stop — she couldn’t stop having these horrible thoughts, and she couldn’t stop having nightmares, and she revisited the Jenison Fieldhouse and a flood of horrific memories came back into her. That’s when she put it all together, and we started to go through the old memorabilia from high school, and what did we find? The same time she pulled out of gymnastics. We discovered some private journaling in her life that revealed how she had been in a very dark place and she hated herself, feeling like she had no reason to live, and that she didn’t know why she felt this way. The revelation of your sick, twisted, demented, and deviant practices, I believe sanctioned and promulgated by MSU, has revealed a destructive black seed that you sewed into her, into my daughter’s mind and into her body.
The revelation of his sick, twisted, demented, and deviant practices, I believe sanctioned and promulgated by MSU, has revealed that you sewed a destructive black seed into my innocent daughter’s mind and body. The things done in darkness have all come to the light. All of it.
Maybe not all. There is one who knows.
Your narcissistic, psychotic thinking, being a master manipulator led you down an inherent path by taking advantage of my sweet, delicate daughter’s innocence, along with hundreds of other daughters after her.
If you think for one minute it has only affected these young, blossoming lives, you’re willfully naive and blind. The ramification of your perverted practices has caused self rage and anger for parental failure, marital instability, divorce, all sorts of family conflicts and upheavals, broken relationships, personal, destructive behaviors like cutting, addictions, depression, attempted suicide, and even suicide.
A couple hundred years ago, Larry, the fathers in this room would have drawn and quartered you for what you’ve done to their daughters and there would be nobody that would have felt bad about it, but now being more civilized, you’re going to be locked away, hopefully for several life times.
If there’s any redemption, if there’s any opportunity for you to make things right, you need to expose those at MSU and the professional and medical world that had knowledge or should have had knowledge of what you were doing and then analyze the system that broke down and failed these girls.
What about your cohorts who knew the despicable practices and did nothing? What about — what about the methods that could have been put in place to stop a guy like you?
As a pastor, trained as a social worker, but as a pastor I’ve been asked what is the spiritual and eternal future for Larry Nassar? The spiritual question for you, Larry Nassar, is not whether God can forgive you. Any sin a man can commit God can forgive. He is infinitely bigger than you and the entire human race. The shed blood of his only son is more powerful than all the sins that man could commit for all time.
The real question is can you truly repent? Can you turn away from any self justification? Can you have a true remorse for violating your sacred trust and honor as a doctor to do no harm? I doubt that you can. I doubt it.
I doubt if in your heart of hearts that you can believe that what you did was truly wrong. All the years of doing it. All the justification.
I doubt if you can ever realize the pain and suffering that you’ve caused so many individuals and families who will live with the damage you created, being crippled the rest of their lives for generations.
Generations. Not just here. Future — future kids, things that are passed on, curses.
The only hope, and I say this — the only home for you that possibly exists for you eternally is if you learn in the short time you have left here on earth what another despicable, horrible man learned. His name was John Newton. You know who John Newton is?
THE DEFENDANT: (Shakes head).
MR. MICHELL: John Newton — you got to learn this. John Newton was a man who wrote a song, Amazing Grace.
THE DEFENDANT: Oh, he was a slave –
MR. MICHELL: He was a slaver.
THE DEFENDANT: He sold slaves, right?
MR. MICHELL: He sent many to hell. He sent many over the sides. He hurt horrible lives.
THE DEFENDANT: I know John —
MR. MICHELL: You have to learn what got him there.
To those that have been abused, I say this, and I say this to my daughter, and I have said this and I continue to say it, a friend of mine, a good friend of mine has said something about being enslaved. He said that holding forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. Every one of the girls, parents, the siblings, the grandparents have a choice, to live in a prison and torture by holding this un-forgiveness or in freedom and power, being able to soar again like eagles, by releasing and forgiving and letting go of the debt that is owed to you. It is a choice. It’s not an emotion. It’s an act of will. A decision. But keep making this choice, keep releasing him from the debt, keep choosing to forgive so that you will experience freedom and lose the weight so you can soar like eagles again.
THE COURT: Sir, thank you very much for your words. I appreciate you being here in support of your daughter and all the girls, the survivors.
You’re right in asking for change. I can only sentence, but you are right. You are making changes with your voice and with your comments. I appreciate that.
MR. MICHELL: Thank you.