Straight after that last appointment I left his office and went to my car and called my then boyfriend and said to him, something weird just happened. I think this guy is going to get into trouble one day. I remember this statement coming out of my mouth so vividly.
date of testimony: January 22th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at first abuse: 16
statement read by court official Ms Liddell
As a teenager my younger sister, Lauren, was heavily involved in competitive gymnastics at the Twistars gym in the Lansing area. I had previously been involved. However, with my tall stature I wasn’t exactly fit for the sport and moved on to running. Lauren had injured the underside of her pelvis and my mother, Sharri, was guided by the staff at the gym to seek care with Larry Nassar. I vividly remember my mom coming home from one of the appointments with Nassar and explaining to me all the various manipulations he did, and one statement has stuck with me even over a decade later. I think you’re going to have to marry my daughter.
She proceeded to tell me that one of Nassar’s manipulation techniques was to insert his fingers into my 13 year old sister’s vagina and pull in a certain type of way. It’s a form of health care. I could tell my mom was uncomfortable.
However, he assured her that it was commonly practiced on females with that kind of injury.
Around the same time I am 16 running in the cross country team for Bath High School. During a race I felt a sharp pain in my lower abdomen and had trouble even walking. My mom took me to various doctors ruling out tumors, et cetera, and with my sister’s given history, I ended up in Nassar’s practice. I was instructed to wear shorts to my appointments and my mom was to be in the room.
Nassar would have me do various exercises that seemed normal as any other sports doctor would do. At one point I was told to lay on my stomach and he inserted his fingers into my vagina through the bottom of my shorts and put pressure on my vaginal wall with the inserted hand and applied pressure on the skin on my hip with the other hand. I remember thinking how incredibly odd this was that a grown man in his 40s was touching me this way.
Being 16 years old, at this point in my life I had only been to the gynecologist once and I still saw a pediatrician for all other ailments. I wasn’t familiar with this type of touching. From the patient’s eyes, his exam rooms were loaded with autographed USA Olympic posters from the best of the best athletes across all types of sports. The walls were covered in what seemed like every inch. It was, honestly, overwhelming. However, it gave you the feeling that you were with the best doctor. One would assume that the doctor who treated America’s heroes and got them back into top health would surely be the best for you as a regular person.
That’s what I felt exactly so I went along with the odd touching thinking, okay, this is how I’m going to get better. I want to be able to walk wincing at every step and this person in charge is telling me that by touching me there, I will, in fact, heal. My mom was in the room with me. She experienced the same with my sister. My mother would never let anything horrible happen to me, especially if she was physically around. Nassar knew that and that is exactly how he played us all for fools.
After my appointments with him in high school were over and eventually my injury healed I saw him on another occasion. Now I’m a junior at Michigan State University. I’m from the East Lansing area, and when I started to have some pain from recreational exercise, I seek out Nassar again thinking he’s the best of the best. I’m in my early 20s and now I’m of legal age and I no longer need a chaperone in the room with me.
On my last appointment I had with Nassar he again inserts his fingers into my vagina to perform the manipulation technique. No one was in the room with me at this time. I am lying on my stomach on the exam table and he is behind me asking me if the pressure was okay. I remember it was my neck area that was hurting so why was he near my lower extremities at all? I was taking anatomy at that time as well, and I was thinking, well, everything in the body is all connected in a way and maybe something in my hip is throwing off my neck.
The worst part was realizing while he was behind me with his fingers inside me that I never saw him put on gloves. I explicitly remember that he wasn’t wearing gloves for the regular assessments, which was normal for skin to skin contact, contact with neck adjustments, et cetera. However, why didn’t he put them on before he put his fingers inside of me?
The appointment was going on as expected and then he quickly slipped his fingers there asking if the pressure was okay. Honestly, my thought in that moment was, wow, this guy is such an idiot. I’m a college student and the statistics are there. He’s a doctor. I could be sexually active. I could have genital warts or something worse and he can give it to himself. This memory pains me when I look back on it because now I work in the health care profession and I realize that on so many levels this one simple task of not putting on gloves was complete misconduct on a care provider’s end. I should have said something to someone, but I didn’t. I was young, maybe a little naive, and, truthfully, didn’t know it was okay to point out to someone in authority to do a simple task such as put on safety equipment.
Straight after that last appointment I left his office and went to my car and called my then boyfriend and said to him, something weird just happened. I think this guy is going to get into trouble one day. I remember this statement coming out of my mouth so vividly. I didn’t even leave the parking lot of the office yet and just sat there thinking about how awkward, disgusting, entirely too intimate the entire exchange was with a much older man that I did not know.
I pushed these old memories into the back of my mind because I had assumed it was all part of the health care, and I went about my normal day which turned into normal years. In present time I vaguely tell my current boyfriend about this weird situation, how I always referred to it prior to the investigation. That happened to me as a teen and I thought nothing of it, that is, until a year later he forwards me an email with a link to the IndyStar article asking, is this him? My heart sinks to the very bottom of my stomach. A decade later and now I find out I’ve been molested. It’s quite a surreal feeling to find out after so much time has passed that you were taken advantage of. You’re used to living your life and interacting with the world in a certain way and now you are the walking statistic.
You know the stats they print on the cutesy little posters and put up around college campuses cross America: One in four girls is raped, sexually assaulted, X, Y, Z. I was irate. I almost couldn’t go to work the next day because I was on the verge of vomiting every time I thought about it. On top of that, I was working as a medical technologist, and that particular next day I had to perform semen analysis on about 20 men that I didn’t know. I was associating all things related to sex with this new information about me and I was livid.
For a few weeks I couldn’t even look at any man without feeling a deep rage inside me wanting to scream at every one of them. I was upset on a number of levels, but I was mostly upset with myself. Why hadn’t I said anything to anyone when I saw him during college? I was older. I was supposed to be looking out for myself. I hate thinking that I could have helped another girl who would have seen him after me and I didn’t speak up.
I still get emotional about it when the memories come back to me and sometimes if I see his picture in the news or if people talk about it casually in front of me without knowing I was one of his patients. It makes me cringe just typing his name in this letter.
Remembering I had the thought that this guy is going to get in trouble one day made me even more mad about it because I was there. It was said, just not to the right person.
I think back to that time and I truly believed it was health care and in my best interest to be there. This was just something that females had to do and boys didn’t because, well, they didn’t have an orifice to use to their advantage to receive care. He used his authority to trick my family and I, using his office with all of his Olympic nostalgia as a facade for his deviant ways.
My mother lost it when the news broke. She felt such sorrow for letting this happen to my sister and I. My father actually went out driving to look for him around in East Lansing. I’m not sure — exactly sure what he would have done if he saw him. He felt he still had to protect us in the way fathers do for their daughters.
This entire situation has changed my outlook on how I interact with older men, especially in my field of work. At my core I know that most people are not molesters or pigs. However, it is tough not to have my guard up, especially in my line of work.
How I feel now is more disheartening than anything. I feel sad that our society had imprinted onto most men to respond with things like, well, Morgan, you should feel lucky that you weren’t very good at gymnastics or it sounds like you could have had it a lot worse. These are words that were said from a male friend that was trying to be consoling. However, it had the opposite effect on me at the time.
I’m sad that my parents, who have given me everything from a happy childhood to helping me get through college, feel that they have failed me at their one job, protection. I’m especially sad that I could have tried to get something, anything, into motion to stop this man from hurting others, even if it was just one person.
I am sad for all the other victims like myself and my sister who were hurt by this man. I am sad that hundreds of people now have to live with this every day.
In part, I would like to express that I believe we treat physicians like kings in America and I know he isn’t the only one that is breaking his Hippocratic oath to preserve the health and life of patients, and using their authority and power to take advantage of others in search of quality care. I want this judgment of Larry Nassar to prove that in the country and the state of Michigan this will not be tolerated. I wish to see Larry Nassar incarcerated for the rest of whatever life he has left.
THE COURT: Thank you. The only one who failed is defendant. Morgan’s voice has added to the awareness of others. She is not a statistic but a real voice joining in with her sister survivor, and I thank her for that.