date of testimony: January 23th 2018
age at first abuse: 8
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
Your Honor, thank you for allowing me to speak today. The bravery of all the women coming forward has made me also want to tell my story.
I started gymnastics when I was three years old. I have had injuries on and off regularly since the age of eight seeing Larry Nassar right up until the end of 2016 when he couldn’t anymore. I was sexually abused by him hundreds of times without gloves or my consent. These actions took place at either his house or Michigan State wearing either shorts or a leotard.
He found an injury that no other doctor found and the injury lasted longer than planned. I wonder if there was even something seriously wrong or if he did it for himself and found something that didn’t exist?
Your Honor, may I address the defendant?
Dear Larry, it is hard for me to believe that someone who did so much good for me did it for all of the wrong reasons. You supported me, gave me gifts, and were going to help with my injuries whenever, even pushing your own family aside. I thought you were doing it for me. I thought you were a good person. I thought I could trust you, but I was wrong. What you did to me and so many others is so, so wrong and will never be — and you will never be forgiven for your actions.
I still struggle to believe that all of this is true, but I know it is. I hope that when many of your victims are speaking out about it you feel horrible for what you did, but I know that you don’t. For someone to do what you did could never feel bad about it.
I can’t even talk about what you’ve done to me in specifics to the people I trust with everything in me because the thought about it makes me uncomfortable and sick. I know I should not feel ashamed of what happened to me because it was not my fault at all. It was yours. All of this is your fault. You have caused me and so many other girls so much pain and suffering just for your own pleasure.
You have to be the most sick and twisted person ever to do that to young girls.
It is hard for me to trust new people because I don’t know what their motive is. I shake going into the doctor’s office because you have made me lose all trust of doctors. I don’t like to tell my coaches when something is hurting because that means I have to go see a doctor.
You made me want to become a doctor when I was younger. I wanted to be like you. Now I want to be nothing like you, but I am not going to let it stop me from my goals and dreams. Even though you have caused me to lose trust in doctors, you have made me want to become one even more because then I can make sure that will not happen to anyone else.
I am a victim of your manipulation but it is not going to stop me. I fell into your trap at eight years old. I trusted you and stood up for you for so long, just like many others that you have tricked.
I do not blame any of this on my coaches. They have kept my love for the sport in place even after what you have done. I blame this on you. It was your actions that caused all of this. Now it is time for you to get what you deserve.
I want to thank all of the other victims for giving me the strength to come here today and tell my story. Thank you.
THE COURT: Ma’am, you also are strong and you are brave and you are a survivor. Don’t call yourself a victim anymore. I know we use that because you were a victim of this, but you are now a very strong voice and survivor. And you were never weird and you were never sick. Defendant was weird and sick and still is. I don’t know what will heal him. I don’t know that that’s possible, but I do know it’s possible for you to heal and to be the best doctor ever, and I think your words have made him feel uncomfortable for the rest of his life.
Thank you so much for being here. I will take what you had to say at sentencing. You are so strong at 15. I am so proud of you. Thank you for being here.
MS. SWINEHART: Thank you.
additional testimony from Anne Swinehart, mother of Jillian.
in 2010 my daughter was just starting as a gymnast. She was in a group called Stars because of their potential. When she was eight years old they discovered a deformity in her back and she began to experience back pain and was sent to Doctor Nassar. After hearing about him I remember thinking how lucky we were to have this elite gym and the best Olympic doctor right in our backyards. Instead, what I thought was luck has turned into a nightmare.
May I address the defendant?
I cannot speak for what my daughter is going through. I can only speak for what I am experiencing as a parent. I willingly took my most precious gift in this world to you and you hurt her physically, mentally, and emotionally, and she was only eight.
I will never get rid of the guilt that I have about this experience. I know that it is not my fault. It is the fault of Doctor Nassar. It is the fault of every institution that listened but did not act. My daughter was still a patient of Doctor Nassar from 2014 to 2016. If MSU or the USAG had had a process in place and told parents that Doctor Nassar was being investigated, if they had not allowed him to continue, then my child would have experienced two less years of trauma. Instead, he was allowed to tell me that he was leaving the USAG to spend time with his family.
Even so, I have read and heard the other victims speak, and I hear the same stories over and over. I cannot help but think, how did I miss the red flags? How is it that I misinterpreted your intent so wrongly? I wanted my daughter to get better, to achieve her dreams, participate and succeed in a sport she loved. Instead, by trusting you I have watched her sink into a girl that is sad and humiliated and afraid to trust.
I will never forget the day that she said that Larry had done this to her. It’s like your world collapses, but even then I tried to justify it. I tried to believe that there was some medical necessity for this treatment. The alternative was just too horrific, to think that I had let this happen to my child when I was sitting right there. I tried to rationalize it in a medical way.
I even said to her that muscles are located in that area and with the problem being in her pubis that it was possible and she said, mom, maybe for when my pelvis was hurt but not for my quads and not for my leg, finding out that this started even further back than you would need to be — than she would need to be seen by you to monitor the problem in her back.
The burden that I will carry from that is bigger than any prison sentence that you are facing. More questioning led to finding out that while I sat there in your office, in your home I thought that you were massaging my daughter to help her sore, broken body, and the whole time you were assaulting her. To look back and remember her grimacing in pain and to now know it was not a knotted muscle that caused that, how can I, a mother, ever forgive?
Your Honor, I would like to take just a minute to address the people following this story on multi-media outlets. Quit shaming and blaming the parents. Trust me, you would not have known and you would not have done anything differently, so stop.
Gym moms are a special breed of fierce. Look at the strong, passionate ladies we are raising. That should speak for itself.
We have a saying in our house that we are all day tough. Parents, I know that I cannot take away the guilt that we all feel, but you are all rock stars and are all day tough.
To my brave, strong daughter who stepped away from being victim 74, Jillian, you are all day tough. As your world crumbled around you you have stayed strong, you have overcome adversity in the gym, and stayed focused academically. I have often said I’m not sure if gymnastics makes the girl or if a certain type of kid is made for gymnastics, but you and all these ladies have shown that you are all all day tough. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you. You are a rock star, too. You need to forgive yourself. The red flags may have been there but they were designed to be hidden. You aren’t alone in this, and you need to help your daughter, as you have been, and I heard that in your voice. The only way to do that is to forgive yourself and leave the blame here with him.
You’ve just got to do that, because now what you are is a voice for change, and I know how hardcore sports moms are. I know that you’re going to be part of the solution making those changes happen, so leave all the junk with him here and continue to stay all day tough. And everybody is rock stars, but remember, you are tough, you are a rock star, and I know that your daughter thinks of you as her hero, too. I know she doesn’t blame you. The only one to blame here is defendant. Leave the blame here and go out and do great things in the world. Your voice is so strong and so is your message. Thank you for being here.
MRS. SWINEHART: Thank you.