date of testimony: January 19th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of abuse: 14-18
First of all, I want to thank you for allowing me to come here. I was not going to be here. I get very nervous speaking in public, especially regarding this type of scenario, but I watched a family member and very close cousin of mine do very well on Tuesday and she has inspired me to also share my story and join her in this fight to make sure we stop future sexual abuse.
I was a 14-year-old girl with lower back pain and big gymnastic dreams. I felt very lucky when my parents told me I was going to be able to see you, Larry. You are the best doctor for my sport, and I couldn’t wait for you to make me feel better. You had agreed to see me at a gymnastics meet because several of my fellow gymnast members had been referred to you by my coach and also my mother. My mom is a gymnastics coach and has been for 40 plus years.
I remember the appointments that would follow at your office at MSU Sports Medicine, and I remember very much the first time and every time that you sexually assaulted me. I remember the time that my father was in the room, and I remember the times that I was alone in the back room at the gymnastics meets that you would graciously accept me to treat me.
It sickens me to think back on how many times that you have sexually assaulted me, close members of my family, and so many of these strong women that are here and have been here all week.
I was a child and so were they. Most of us brand new teenagers that will never understand how someone could have ever done that. I’m a mother, a mother of two amazing beautiful little girls, and my job is to protect them from people like you.
When I was 18 years old I had some trouble my freshman year of college with my back still acting up. I saw you from the time I was 14 until then, and at my last treatment my sister and my father joined me and we had decided that my back had had enough and I was no longer going to undergo any treatment. I was going to give up my career as a gymnast. I can’t tell you how hard that was, and I can’t tell you how many times I went back in the gym just to work out and tumble with the girls. I was very thankful to have that option.
But for part of my healing I need to begin to forgive you. Mr. Nassar, I pray that you realize the lives that you have truly impacted in such a negative way. You were in the best position to help people but at times you chose to do the exact opposite. Oddly enough, I will eventually find a way to forgive you. I just can’t at this time. I will continue to work at this daily for myself to help myself heal.
Thankfully the sport of gymnastics has instilled quite the fighter in me. It is very ironic that the sport I chose to give up due to my injury is a sport that instilled this fighter in me to allow me to be here today.
I thank you for admitting your wrongdoing so I can start to process truly what happened to me to allow the healing process to begin. It truly sickens me that so many helped enable you to continue to abuse for so many years, but I applaud you for admitting your wrongdoing. Thank you.
Thank you very much for allowing me to speak.
THE COURT: Thank you for being here. You are a strong fighter. You are a strong voice. You are a strong mother, because your voice will help all other children to know this is wrong, to speak up, to tell somebody, and to keep talking, because it’s a sad line that has run through here, that people didn’t listen.
MS. WOOLEVER: Yes.
THE COURT: You’re going to be an adult not only who listens but who teaches your children and other children keep talking, listening, say when something doesn’t feel right, look right, act right, and so you’ve got this huge network now, and you are a strong survivor and a role model for all those similarly situated in this horrible situation, and not just with this, gymnastics, with this defendant, but for all those little girls who get assaulted, andwe know there’s thousands of them. So thank you so much for coming forward. I know it was reluctantly but I think bravely and rightfully so. You’re fantastic. Thank you.
MS. WOOLEVER: Thank you.
[Following Ms Woolever’s statement, her elder sister Tiffani Berra gave this statement]
I am Lindsay’s older sister. I am a doctor of physical therapy and I specialize in treating pelvic floor dysfunction, and I would just like to say as a clinical specialist in treating pelvic disorders in women and men, I am appalled that you would try to pass what you were doing for what I do. Unlike you, I take my oath very seriously, and I use my techniques and skills to try to help women and give them tools to help themselves heal from any injuries and disorders that they may have going on. You used your powers to abuse little girls, and what you did, myofascial release, I do that every day in my practice, but I would never do something like that without proper patient education, proper consent, gloves if I need to do internal treatment, and as a health care provider, I am ashamed that someone like you was able to get away with this for so long.
As an older sister, that role of protection comes up to the surface and I’m — I only wish that I had figured out sooner what had been going on and could have helped protect my sister from you, but I know that her healing will start today and will continue, but with that said, I want you to understand, you changed the dynamics of our family for years. We went through a lot trying to figure out, you know, what happened to this happy, fun loving, humorous girl, and now we know, and she is so strong.
And, like she said, we thank you for admitting your wrongdoings, and from this day forward I know she will be working on forgiveness and we will as a family so that we can start to heal. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you very much. Could have, would have, should have doesn’t have a place here. It is everyone’s request. The problem is when you have someone who is hiding it so well, you didn’t know, and I know that those supportive words and the love that I see here, you would have done something immediately, but you have to know something in order to act.
I also appreciate your words. They help not only women but I think the medical field that’s taken a hit here. You have hundreds of victims who say I’m not going to be treated. That’s sad, because people do need a safe place to be treated, and they do need treatment of all kinds. But not like this. Not illegal treatment. And I will consider what you’ve had to say, and I appreciate your words on behalf of your sister. You’re so supportive and loving, but also on behalf of all of the survivors and the medical community, because I don’t know what we’re going to do if we can’t trust people who are supposed to help us in private, but thank you.