date of testimony: January 23th 2018
age at first abuse: 10
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
First off, Your Honor, I would personally like to thank you for extending the days and allowing more women to come forward and tell their story. Otherwise, I would not be here today.
I would also like to say that I may not be a college gymnast or even still competing but I was a local town gymnast for 15 years. I qualified to nationals four times and I got multiple full-ride scholarship offers. And I also verbally committed to the University of Arizona.
It took me a long time to find the courage to come here and speak about my experience. I couldn’t even accept the fact that it happened to me, and I was in denial for a long time. There have been so many women who have already told their story and I felt like just another number. What else could I say that hasn’t already been said? I didn’t feel anyone would think my story was that important, and I wasn’t sure if anyone would listen to me.
I have been told throughout my elite gymnastics career to not question authority as it was disrespectful and I was told not to speak up. Therefore, I felt like I didn’t have a voice.
These were all insecurities that I faced day-to-day because of the abuse I received in my past, but I’ve learned that I’m not another number and that I am a part of our army of survivors, and there is strength in numbers
Everyone’s story is important. Everyone’s story is different, and I do have a voice. I wanted everyone else out there to know that they, too, have one. I wanted to come share my story because of the younger girls who may have looked up to me in the gym or other girls who are still afraid. I wanted to do this for my little sister.
I wanted to try and give them strength and confidence like my close friend Lindsey Lemke did for me. I wanted to do this for my future daughter and so that one day this never happens to a little girl again.
I started practicing at Twistars when I was ten years old and that’s when I met Larry Nassar. During that time we became very close to the point where I called him a good friend. I told him everything. I told him about my struggles that I had in practice. I told him about stuff that John had did that day, and sometimes I told him how I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in gymnastics anymore. He would give his advice and he would try and help me with my struggles and that established a trust and a friendship in him.
When his basement flooded my mother, sister, and I went over to his house for hours to help him carry stuff upstairs and outside. We even brought home hundreds of pictures that he had taken from the Olympics and other meets to our house and laid them all out to dry. He had given me multiple gifts from past Olympics he had gone to. I actually found a box a couple of days ago that he mailed to my house. It was full of stuff from the 1996 Olympics when the mascot was Izzy. There is figurines, and there are playing cards and socks, and there were Izzy bandaids for Izzy boo-boos because of all the injuries I had had. He even wrote me a letter and he said, Dear Izzy, I am so proud of you having such an awesome season this year. Did you know that the 1996 Olympic mascot was Izzy? Well, enjoy. And, of course, I have a pair of Izzy socks from the 2000 Aussie Olympics. Love you, girl. Larry. He also had given me these Chinese healing balls, which, unfortunately, did not heal any of the pain that he has caused me.
My first injury was an evulsion fracture of my hamstring, so a muscle pulled off a part of my bone. One of the main parts of rehab was trying to get range of motion back, so while in the back room of Twistars he said the easiest way to stretch it without pain was to insert his fingers inside my vagina and press up against the insertion of the muscle. He would perform this treatment without gloves, without asking my parents, and without anyone else in the room, and he did this treatment for months while my hamstring healed.
I also had the same injury happen to the other leg which called for the same treatment. Every time I saw him he told me he would even show John how to stretch me the same way but without penetration.
I remember a conversation after seeing him during two-a-days with a teammate in the bathroom. I told her what he did and I asked if it was weird at all. She said, no, he did the same thing to me. So being only ten years old, him being the most trusted doctor that all of my teammates saw, and having a friend say that she experienced the same thing, I thought nothing of it.
Later in 2011 I had the worst injury of my career. What probably started out as something small escalated into something major. I had been experiencing pain in my lower leg for a couple weeks. I didn’t say anything immediately because I knew that John would yell at me and because regionals were coming up. It got to the point where it started to hurt more so I finally said something to John, willing to take his wrath. He told me that I had to go see Larry to get it checked out, so I saw Larry and he examined it and he thought there was nothing wrong. Therefore, if Larry said nothing was wrong, then nothing was wrong, even if it hurt me to walk, and I was not allowed to get a second opinion.
I continued for a couple more weeks and I would go to Larry’s house after practice and into his basement where he would set up a massage table next to the fireplace. He would try and rub down a bump on my leg that was actually calcification trying to heal and protect my leg. He would then continue to massage the rest of my body to help with my sore muscles, a massage that was very personal and consisted of his bare hands running across my private areas. We would stay until 11 o’clock and then drive two hours home. Some nights we wouldn’t get home until one or two in the morning.
Then during a practice the week of nationals I could barely walk because my leg hurt so bad. I ended up getting screamed at and kicked out of the gym and I went to the ER immediately after. The x-ray showed a broken leg. It looked like an axe splitting a piece of wood, and every time that I tumbled the bone splintered more and more, so for over a month I practiced, competed, and made it to nationals on a broken leg because Larry Nassar said that there was nothing wrong, and we believed the child molesting doctor over the child who was the one experiencing pain. To this day I wonder if I was ever getting accurate medical treatment.
After my leg I also had a serious elbow injury that needed surgery. I still cannot straighten my arm all the way. It cracks and pops every time I move it, and I still have a lot of pain.
I have even been told by an orthopedic surgeon that I shadowed recently that I needed to have another surgery because it was still not fixed. Did he ignore what was wrong with my leg so he could — so I would continue seeing him for longer? Did he try to get my elbow — did he not try to get my elbow completely healed for the same reason? Am I still having pain today because my doctor was more concerned with sexually abusing me than he was about my physical health?
The dynamic duo that is Larry Nassar and John Geddert had lasting effects on me that go beyond physical ones. My gymnastics career ended then, even though I continued for a couple years after leaving Twistars. What was once a sport that I loved since I was five years old and would give up school and a social life for turned into my own personal prison.
I hated going to practice every day, and I would often get sick because of how afraid I was.
They also changed who I was as a person, because after the physical and emotional abuse I was never the same. Everything about me changed. I was known in the gym ever since I was little as the crazy, weird, and energetic girl. I was goofy. I cracked jokes, and I wasn’t afraid to say anything, and I was confident in who I was. I always had a smile on my face and I tried to make others around me happy too. But I am no longer that person. Instead, I am a girl who’s afraid to talk to anyone, afraid to speak in front of a group of people, terrified to be here now. Because of the monster that is Larry Nassar I am afraid to trust anyone, because the actions that I thought were friendly and caring were actually twisted and part of grooming me so he could sexually abuse me whenever he pleased.
I can’t believe if people genuinely care about me or are using me. I am uncomfortable in my own body. I’m not confident of anything I do, and I’m always in a state of constant anxiety. I felt guilty and ashamed of myself because I was so oblivious to what was happening to me. I have sleepless nights, especially recently, because images of him and his treatments cause me to wake in a panic.
My time at Twistars was the worst time of my life. It was the darkest time of my life. I was depressed and it got to the point where I would physically harm myself because the physical pain was easier to deal with than the emotional pain that I was feeling. I often wondered if it would have been easier to just not live at all. I finally ended my gymnastics career in 2015 after not having enough strength to come back after a knee surgery. Being out of the environment helped me heal emotionally some, but it takes more than just that to fully heal from something that I went through, and I went through it alone, but I shouldn’t have had to. I shouldn’t have had to go through it at all.
John Geddert, USAG, and MSU, how could you have let this happen? How could you have not said anything or not done anything? If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem, and by standing by and sweeping it under the rug, you are just as disgusting. If it had been your own daughters, would you still have remained silent? I don’t think you would have.
John, I find it funny that you tried to keep us all silent for so long and now you’re the one who is silent. We are just merely distractions to you, and I’m sorry that your beloved doctor sexually abusing me was such a distraction to you, because it surely hasn’t been a distraction at all to me for these nine years. That’s sarcasm, by the way. It has been a distraction.
We found our voice and we are calling you out, but you are no where to be found hiding and hoping that you can just sneak out of this, but you can’t, and we will come for you next.
Your Honor, may I have permission to address the defendant?
Finally, Larry, I think it is important for you to know that when I wanted to grow up I wanted to be a sports medicine physician. I wanted to be like you. I even called you asking which undergrad route I should take, so I pursued pre-med in college. When I found out and I realized what you had done to me and to hundreds of other women, I was so sickened that I couldn’t stand the thought of being anything like you. I wanted to throw all I had done away and I wanted to completely change my major, but I realized something, you were never a real doctor. You did not heal me. You only hurt me, and I hope that eventually I can bring good back into the medical community, and I pray that I can eventually earn the real trust of athletes again, so I promised myself I would continue and go to medical school and become the doctor that you never were and that you never could be. Thank you, Your Honor.
THE COURT: That was a very confident, brave, well-spoken speech, and I applaud you for going into the medical field because I think any one of us would be happy to be in your medical office.
MS. HUTCHINS: Thank you.
THE COURT: I believe you and I thank you so much for trusting us with your story. We all look up to you. There isn’t anybody who doubts you or who doesn’t look up to you, and I see how proud your sister and your boyfriend are and this whole room, you can’t see, but they’re all proud of you as well. You have a name. You are not a number.
You have a voice, and your words are so important, and I hope now you begin the real healing, because you matter. Do not self harm. Do not do any of those negative things. You are a positive role model, survivor. Please continue on this path and with that lovely voice of yours. Thank you so much for being here.
MS. HUTCHINS: Thank you.