date of testimony: January 22th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of first abuse:
All right. I’m speaking to you not only as a survivor but also as a practicing medical professional. Ironically enough, it was my childhood admiration of you that motivated me to become a physical therapist. I idolized your work with all of my childhood heroes.
As I a child I always felt weird about your treatments but I thought it was a problem with me, that I was a prude. Your treatments became the same each time. I would come in, lay on the table, and you would digitally penetrate me until I was sore and raw. I would emotionally withdraw from my body as a means to cope. I felt I was watching myself as if I was floating above the table. I never wanted to say that I was sore or that you were hurting me because I desperately wanted to return to gymnastics, and I was raised with the no pain, no gain mentality from both my family and my coaches and so I endured it.
Every time we would drive home from your appointments I would recline the chair back in the car and stare out the window with tears silently streaming down my cheeks. My parents would sometimes ask, why so quiet? But I never had the courage to discuss what had happened. This was in part due to my shame and fear, but also because I thought they knew what was going on. Who was I to question a world-renowned physician that had treated so many of my favorite Olympic gymnasts?
What you did to me always felt wrong, but we’re taught from an early age that doctors are there to help you. You’re supposed to be able to implicitly trust a doctor. Instead, you broke ethical codes, your hypocratic oath, as well as all universal precautions for your own twisted desire. You destroyed my ability to trust.
As a survivor, I still haven’t been able to fully grasp the impact of your actions. I have lived for decades with hypervigilance with fear of being put into a situation where there isn’t an immediate exit. My husband has had to learn to clap his hands or make noise when entering a room or coming up behind me when I can’t see him so I won’t lash out in an automatic fight response to being startled.
I have struggled with intimacy issues and I can’t accept physical contact without my skin feeling like it is crawling. I jump every time my OB has to examine me for a routine visit no matter what the procedure or how much care and time they take in explaining each step.
This process has not only affected me physically, it has affected me emotionally. It has affected my ability to build and maintain relationships. My husband has had to endure years of me being okay one minute and completely withdrawn the next. He has had to love someone who struggles to trust and surrender even after being together almost 14 years. I am still unable to discuss the abuse with my family.
As a medical professional I am sickened and angered by your abuse of power and notoriety for your own self gain. It took away my ability to feel safe, to be able to be intimate or enjoy human contact in any way. Your monstrous actions have taken away so much from so many.
I am currently seven, almost eight months pregnant with my first child, a little girl, and I am plagued by the decisions of what pediatrician to pick, which day care to attend. While I have the same concerns as most parents, I am paralyzed by the fear that I could place my daughter in the hands of someone who could repeatedly molest her under the guise of legitimacy. She, too, could be groomed like myself and like so many of the other survivors were.
I find myself constantly asking what was it about me that made me a safe target? I still have not come to grasp with the fact that this was about you and not me.
To you, Larry, let’s talk about mental health issues. I do feel badly every time I see you.
I am such a sympathetic person that despite how much evil you have spread, it still hurts me to see you so thin and gaunt. It is sad knowing what was likely a gifted mind for sports medicine will now rot behind bars in prison, because I know firsthand how much work and school one has to go through to become a medical professional like you.
However, at the end of the day, you brought this on yourself. You chose to use your power and notoriety for evil. You have the gall to complain to the judge of how this is a media circus. I ask you to imagine for a second how it felt for us survivors. I can’t go to a restaurant, look at the news on my phone, or walk down the hallway at work without being inundated with non-stop coverage or hearing people talk about this story.
Everywhere I go I see reminders and it re-triggers every painful memory and emotion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been so hungry and unable to eat because it came over the t.v. while I was waiting for food. How many times I opened my computer at work to have it displayed as world news and run to the bathroom having been sick or to dry my tears. Each time I’m triggered I have to remember the soreness and self loathing and humiliation I felt. I was finally old enough to realize you had become aroused after pulling your ungloved hand outside of me when I was just a child.
Despite all this I must forgive you. I must for the sake of myself, my husband, my family, and my unborn child forgive you. I will no longer carry the weight of what you did to me so very long ago. The heavy burden is yours.
To MSU, you had the duty as an educational institution and as a medical institution to investigate any reports of impropriety of one of your employees as I have a duty as a medical professional and as a mandatory reporter to report any knowledge or suspicion of abuse of any kind. Your lack of accountability has been repulsive and inexcusable.
Finally, when I was asked if I wanted to provide a statement, I must say I went back and forth. I originally wished to remain anonymous out of fear how it would affect my life, my loved ones, and my career. However, I will no longer let you have control over me. I will not let you win. Today I am speaking out in hopes that it may help give a voice to every child or adult that hasn’t had his or hers heard yet. My silence ends today.
To the girls that first came forward, the attorneys, investigators, and everyone else that has worked to make this day possible to ensure justice is served, I humbly thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To my husband, thank you for being my rock and standing for me when I was too weak to stand for myself. Thank you for always standing by my side.
Thank you, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Ma’am, today your words, your strength, you took control back. Your statements, especially when you went back and forth and were deciding whether or not to speak and come forward — you have a name. You have a strong voice, and the wonderful thing about you is that you are going to be such a comfort to all of those patients that you have who you treat. They’re lucky to have you, because you will have the right kind of empathy. You’re the right kind of reporter. You’ll spread the message.
You’ll make sure that others report, because that certainly didn’t happen here. People failed all of you children, and you need to forgive yourself.
When you hear all of those comments, when you see the news — because it’s not going away any time soon that I can see, it will be around you for quite a while — you need to remind yourself not to shy away from it but remember how courageous, how strong you are being. Being here today shows me that. It shows the world that.
I can see how proud your husband is of you, and for those family members who didn’t know before, they know now, and I know they’re proud of you. I couldn’t be more happy to have you in my courtroom talking, and I will consider your words. You have added to the strength of your sister survivor warriors. Thank you.
MS. STERN: Thank you, Your Honor.