Day 3: Parents' of victims read statements in court
The day ended with two victim statements being read from sisters, Maureen and Kathrine Payne. Their mother, Dr. Mary Fisher-Follmer read the statements. Her daughter Maureen saw Larry Nassar from 1997 - 1999 at MSU. Maureen said, "Every time I see a Michigan State logo, I think of Dr. Larry Nassar." She then called out MSU for "negligence" and wants them to take responsibility. She accused MSU of caring more "about their brand." She said authorities there "elected to do nothing." She ended her written statement to Nassar - "As you deteriorate in prison, I want you to remember you lost."
Dr. Fisher-Follmer as read a statement from her daughter, Katie. Katie stated that "my sister and I were sexually molested and raped as children," referring to Nassar. She wrote to her family, "thank you for keeping me alive when my suffering was so great I didn't want to keep living." A music video that Katie chose was then played in the court for all of the survivors.
The court heard from Jessica Tarrant via a video from overseas where she is stationed as a U.S. Marine. She's a Sergeant in the Marines and said she was assaulted when she was 14 years-old by Nassar and said, "How stupid I feel," looking back at the abuse. She added that USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University "are not safe places for people." Her parents were in court and cried as the video played. Her father said to Nassar before he left the podium, "I feel for your family."
Following Kristen was Katie Rasmussen. She was there with her dad. She told the court that she met Larry through Twistars and was first treated by him when she was 11 years-old. He explained nothing to her and didn't wear gloves, she said. Katie said she trusted her coaches and her doctor but knew something was wrong because she would cry before and after seeing Nassar. One time, her father took her to see Larry and the treatment was completely different. At the age of 14 she started to question the treatment and started to talk about it with friends and even adults but no one believed her. She was told "she was messed up." When she saw the article in 2016 it all came back, "nightmares, panic attacks, depression."
After two women who wanted to remain anonymous gave their statements, Kristen Thelen read hers. She started by saying that "before I was 15 everything seemed so perfect." She was assaulted by Larry Nassar at age 15. She spent the next ten years in depression, attempting suicide, and harming herself. "He was a demon," she said. She read the newspaper article when she was 27 years-old and realized what had happened to her. She ended by saying, "Today we take our future's back even as his fades into nothingness."
Christine Harrison is 23 years old; she stood at the podium to read her statement with her father, an officer of the law, at her side. She was abused by Nassar when she was 16. She saw him at the MSU Sports Med clinic for spine and pelvis pain. Nassar told Christine that he had never seen a pelvic injury like that before, that it was like one a man would get. That, she says, is why she thought the treatment was okay.
She saw him for six years. She lost weight due to the stress and developed stomach issues. She told the court that she made her mother go with her to a male doctor even though she was 21 years old. Christine is currently a senior at Michigan State and says she is infuriated with how MSU is handling this situation
"He groomed children to worship his name," said Melody Posthuma-Vanderveen, the next victim to speak. She was a dancer and 13 years old when she first saw Larry Nassar. She said she had many appointments with him, all that gave her trauma, high anxiety, and PTSD. In 2016 when she first saw the headline about Nassar she loudly defended him, that is until she read it and realized that she was abused too. She said, "Some people did not believe me." Her husband of just three months was standing by her side, tears rolling down his face during her speech. She said, 'Imagine your deepest darkest pain that you couldn't control on display." Melody also said that she believes there are thousands of victims that were abused. She called Nassar a "sick evil man," and proceeded to call MSU "sick evil people." She said her last appointment with him was in 2014 and that she is "suffering every day and will continue to do so." Melody also said that we need greater control over child and adult pornography, and to teach men not to objectify women.
Following Taylor Cole was Grand Ledge student, Arianna Guerrero. She is 16 years old and was present in the courtroom with her father at her side. She was first treated by Nassar at a Twistar's Invitational Meet. She said, "He hurt me, my family and my teammates. I hate you so much." Nassar had told her that she could contact him on social media instead of calling his office to make an appointment. She said to Larry, "I'm not afraid of you anymore."
The next victim to speak out was Taylor Cole, who saw Larry Nassar for five years for back pain from playing volleyball. She waited three months for her first appointment. After the adjustment she was sent to the hospital because she couldn't move below her waist. She was just 16 years old. Larry Nassar called her mother personally to say this has never happened before and told her mom to bring her back to him, that he would fix it. Taylor saw him for appointments that would sometimes last over an hour. She said, "Did he keep bringing me back for his pleasure?" Other doctors told her to quit playing sports but Nassar told her that she could continue to play. In 2015 she gave up volleyball. And now, she has given up her dream of coaching volleyball at the collegiate level because it reminds her too much of him. She said, "I hate the colors green and white and despise anything associated with MSU."
After the lunch break, a gymnast and former neighbor Lyndsy Gamet read her victim statement in court. She said she met Larry Nassar in 1992. She was abused by him when she was only 11 years old. She described Nassar as a "wolf in sheep's clothing." Lyndsy said she was abused in a back room at Great Lakes Gymnastics Club. She said she convinced herself it was okay and hid her concern "way down." Larry befriended her parents and they all were in attendance at his wedding. Lyndsy even babysat for Nassar's oldest daughter.
A dancer with back and hip pain saw Larry Nassar in her high school senior year. Nicole Reeb told her emotional and tragic story to the court with her sister at her side. She said that she saw Nassar weekly and did not realize that she was being abused. While on his table she said that Nassar even commented on her underwear. Nicole said she thought something was off. Through her adult life she had mental breakdowns; times when she thought she was dying and even began drinking to "numb herself." It wasn't until September 2016 when she saw an article on social media that made her realize she was a victim. She said loud and directly to Nassar "I too had been sexually abused by Larry Nassar." She told her family and her friends. She told her doctors and therapists who said the abuse contributed to her years of mental anguish from abuse at the hands of Nassar. To deal with it Nicole said she began to tell herself that "being abused wasn't a big deal." But it was. She had suffered from PTSD for almost 20 years. Since 2016, she has gained weight and has high blood pressure; her parents have gotten sick and have serious medical conditions. She told the court that they are victims too, along with her friends, her husband and her children. She even said that her "Spartan Pride is a victim." She said she is disgusted at the administration of MSU and that she no longer "bleeds green"
Lindsey Lemke is at MSU on a gymnastics scholarship. Her mother spoke for her previously but on Thursday, Lindsey wanted to address the court. She appeared strong and was very direct in her comments. She said she was treated in Larry Nassar's basement three to four times a week for back pain and forced to quit gymnastics because of it. She asked Larry if he created her pain on purpose so she would keep seeing him. She said, "You did not slow me down," as she continued in gymnastics at MSU proudly. Lindsey called out people that she believes is responsible for her and other girl's assaults.
She said, "To John Geddert, you are a coward and a disgrace." She said his "award-winning gym" was a prison for money-makers. She said "you brainwashed me and so did Larry."
She then called out USA Gymnastics. She accused them of "paying athletes millions of dollars to stay quiet about Larry Nassar."
She said, "To MSU, shame on you." She said that when she went public in 2016 that she was terrified of what MSU would do to her, she said she was afraid she would lose her scholarship.
Regarding Kathy Klagas she said Klagas told her not to speak up against Nassar, that it might hurt his reputation. She was asked to sign a card to support Larry after the Indiana Star article came out. She called Klagas "a coward."
She said to MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon that "you are no President of mine. You're a coward too." Lemke talked of her panic attacks, depression and self-harm that not only she felt but many of her fellow victims felt. She told Nassar, "It’s too late for your sorrys."
She said of Lou Anna Simon, "You're just as bad as this monster."
When she finished, the courtroom exploded with applause.
McKayla Maroney's statement was second on Thursday. She was not present but had her statement read by the Attorney General's office. Maroney talked about her love for gymnastics and her goal to win a medal, she said in her statement, "I got there but not without a price."
She started at USA Gymnastics at 14 years old. When Nassar first treated her, he told Maroney that she was receiving medical treatment that he had performed for 30 years. At age 15, she recalls Nassar giving her a sleeping pill and then ending up "alone in a hotel room getting a treatment." She specifically called out Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and US Olympic Committee for allowing Nassar to continue to prey on children.
Former national USA team member, Jamie Dantzscher was the first victim to speak Thursday at the Nassar sentencing hearings. She was part of Team USA's bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic games. She has suffered from anorexia, bulimia, depression and even suicidal thoughts because of her pain from Larry Nassar's abuse. She told the court that Nassar abused her during the Olympics in her private hotel room, in her own bed. He treated her for hip and back pain and even performed physicals on her. When she first came forward in August 2016 she was not believed and was called "a liar and a whore." When she addressed Nassar she said, "Who do they believe now Larry?"
Court started late on Thursday morning, at least a half hour past the scheduled time of 9 a.m. Judge Aquilina started the day by thanking the media for the way they have been handling the hearing. Then the attorneys announced themselves for both the prosecution and the defense. The judge stated that they delay was because Larry Nassar sent a letter to her saying that he does not think he can continue to listen to statements from victims going forward. He then spoke in court regarding the letter.
He called the hearing a "media circus," and said that the judge wants him to sit next to her so cameras would constantly be on Nassar throughout hearing. Judge Aquilina had to defend herself before the victims could even speak, saying she does not want the media's attention, that he, Nassar, created this.
All day Thursday in Judge Aquilina's courtroom in Ingham County, victims, now called survivors, of former doctor Larry Nassar were reading Victim Impact Statements as part of Nassar's sentencing hearing.
As of Thursday morning 105 victims were prepared to speak.
Statements were not available from victims who wished to remain anonymous.
News 10's Clayton Cummins was tweeting live from the courtroom as well. (See his tweets below or follow them here:https://twitter.com/ClaytonCummins)
News 10's coverage will continue on Friday, live on wilx.com at 9 a.m.
Related StoriesDay 1: Survivor: "I knew immediately that it was abuse"
Day 2: Survivor says many more need to be held accoutable for lack of action
Day 4: Survivor says this is the worst epidemic of sexual abuse in the history of sports
Day 5: Nassar sentencing will continue Tuesday
Day 6: Survivor to Nassar "we are powerful, and you are powerless"