date of testimony: January 22th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of abuse: 12
statement read by her mother, Paula Daniels
Actually, I wanted to start by just — my daughter texted me before — she really wanted to be here but she’s in the military and she was not able to come right now.
She said, good luck. I love you. You show Larry how tough we are and call him out for the sick bastard he is.
This is her statement.
Growing up, gymnastics was my life. I started when I was only four years old and continued until I was about 17. Gymnastics takes a toll on your body physically and mentally. I have immense love for the sport itself. It taught me discipline, determination, and that family doesn’t have to be blood. Geddert Twistars was my home away from home for nearly 13 years.
With the sport came countless injuries. We were told by John and so many others that we were lucky to have Nassar as our personal doctor, the doctor that went above and beyond to take care of us, and that he was the best of the best. After all, he was the Olympic doctor.
Nassar often made friendly conversation earning and building my trust. Larry is the one whom we, as young and often distressed gymnasts, could confide in.
I was around 12 years old the first time I met the famous Doctor Larry. He had such an amazing reputation. At the time I would have trusted him with my life, but he used his position for his own hideous perversions.
Larry performed multiple procedures that he told me were necessary for healing my injuries.
Countless times I went back in for back, hamstring, and groin injuries. He penetrated me with his fingers at least 50 to 75 separate occasions and, of course, no gloves were used.
I was abused in my own home by you. At the time I thought, how nice you were to make a house call during your busy schedule.
I was abused at your office at MSU.
I, too, remember the baggy shorts I was asked to change into.
I was abused in your basement when my mom sat on the couch and your children were upstairs.
I was abused at Twistars with friends and teammates often nearby.
I feel stupid for not realizing that what he was doing was actually abuse. After all, my mother was usually just a few feet away. Why would I think he had any other intention than to help me heal? He stole my innocence from me and I had no idea. The fact that I didn’t have a clue is the most shameful part of all for me. I hope you don’t sleep at night.
You told the judge that you couldn’t listen to all of your victims. Maybe you should have thought of that before you turned us into victims.
You deserve to hear every woman’s impact statement, because all of the torture that you’re experiencing couldn’t so much as scratch the surface of what you’ve made me feel. I feel guilty. Guilty because I didn’t realize what a monster you were sooner. I lay awake at night now and try to think of ways to teach little girls in sports the signs of disgusting predators like yourself. Someone needed to protect us. I ask why no one did?
As a child I didn’t know what was happening to me was wrong, but the adults that were told and did nothing — Kathie Klages, you didn’t think for just a minute that the young gymnast complaints needed to be taken seriously? Shame on you. If you had acted responsibly, we wouldn’t be here today.
The psychologist at MSU that never reported it to authorities, shame on you. MSU Dean Strampel who welcomed you back without making sure proper protocols were followed, shame on you. To any other trainer, coach, or administrator who had been told about this medical procedure and not vetted further, shame on all of you.
Now I feel like I can’t trust anyone. I can’t go to a crowded area without having a panic attack. I get a knot in my stomach that makes me want to vomit every time I see your name flash on the news. When you lay down to sleep at night I want you to see every little girl’s face that you’ve abused — hundreds of girls, Larry, innocent girls that trusted you — and know that these little girls are all grown up now, and I pray that they haunt you every single day. You deserve so much worse than that, Larry, and I have the feeling that this is only the beginning.
Well, Larry, now you are truly famous, and you’re getting what you deserve.
I wanted to add my own thoughts as well from a mother’s perspective.
When the first accusations against Nassar surfaced, I really didn’t know what to think. There was just no way that this well-respected doctor, whom I had personally taken my daughter to dozens and dozens of time and sat through numerous appointments, could have done these horrible things. But with that said, I also realized that seldom would girls and women come forward with sexual abuse accusations if there was no merit to it. Thank you Rachael, Jamie, and the other women that were among the first to come forward. I’m sure it could not have been easy. So many people supported you, Larry.
Larry, when this first came out I breathed a sigh of relief to myself thinking, oh, thank God I went with her to every appointment, but as we know now, that didn’t matter. Like many other mothers, I put much blame on myself, maybe more as people around me had expressed concern when I told them I was taking Samantha to see you in your basement. I initially had the same reaction but quickly brushed it aside as you were already treating numerous friends and teammates there.
I also remember how strange it was to always be able to get through to you to discuss injuries and treatments. I must have missed the description of actual treatment you were performing. You seemed so knowledgeable, and as a parent I just wanted Sam’s injuries to be healed, but I somehow missed the signs and was incredibly naive in thinking, wow, he’s just so nice, he really cares about these girls.
I remember sitting through hour and a half long massages completely unaware where your hands actually were or what they were doing. But, then, I didn’t always watch you that closely as other parents did. I would often pass the time looking through my phone. I question myself now, would I have caught anything had I paid better attention? But I thought just being there was enough.
At the end of the appointment in your basement I remember asking do I owe you anything as I was unsure how that worked with insurance or whatever. Now it seems kind of sick, you got what you wanted. Your reply, as it often was, no worries. You said that a lot. How ironic that now you will have a lot of worries.
I don’t hate you, Larry, because that just takes too much energy and you aren’t worth it. I am, however, incredibly sad when I think about how this experience has changed Sam, her closest friend, and scores of other girls and women. I am sure you’ve noticed by now, they’re really angry. And while their anger is getting them through right now, my hope is that they can return to a normal, more carefree life, and eventually trust in the good in people.
Samantha has a tattoo on her forearm now that reads, don’t let fear decide your fate. While I’m not the biggest fan of tattoos, I can appreciate those words now.
I am so grateful that so many decided to come forward and not be anonymous anymore. I know that this has made it possible for Samantha to do the same. There should be no shame or judgment on any of you. The shame is not yours. For those of you who say he stole my innocence, no, you are still innocent.
So where does the blame lie? Obviously with you, Larry. But how did you get away with this for so long? While many did not even realize that their so-called treatments were actual abuse, several people did speak up. Why didn’t anyone listen or care enough to do anything? When adults were told that this treatment included penetration and no gloves, no consent was being asked or given, didn’t you think that it deserved further investigation?
And how on earth was a grown man ever allowed access to gymnasts in their own room even if he was a doctor?
How was Larry able to return to practice after charges were made against him and not even make sure that protocols were followed?
These questions and many other questions need to be answered in order to prevent something from this ever happening again. My daughter and every other survivor deserve answers from MSU, USAG, and the USA Olympic Committee. Please do the right thing.
And, MSU, burn them damn baggy shorts.
Thanks. That’s it.
THE COURT: Ma’am, thank you so much for being here. You have honored your daughter with your words, and thank you for standing in place of your daughter in supporting her.
Your daughter has shown strength and I’m proud that she’s protecting our country. She is of the finest caliber having gone through this and now serving in the military for justice, and her words are for justice, and let me just say, you’ve put the blame exactly where it belongs. You’ve put the questions exactly how they need to be answered.
And you’ve worn the right T-shirt. Your T-shirt: Beauty, strength, love, grace, and truth.
That is you and your daughter and all of these sister survivors. It’s a great T-shirt. I wish we were selling them outside, because all of these survivors need to wear that and show that they are no longer victims, they are survivors with a strong voice just as you and your daughter have had and all of these wonderful survivors.
I’ve heard your message and I’m taking it all into consideration. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for being up here again.
MRS. DANIELS: Thank you.