All over the media fingers are being pointed, people at MSU are stepping down. As a former MSU athlete and patient of Larry Nassar nearly 20 years ago I have some thoughts on this. (Specifically, I was at MSU from 1998-2003).
People are asking from all over the country how could this have happened for so long at MSU. Outsiders who were not in the exam rooms or the training rooms want answers not just for this case but to help prevent future cases. I have some thoughts on the matter as a patient who had many interactions with Larry Nassar during my time as a full scholarship athlete at Michigan State.
These are my thoughts on MSU and how Larry Nassar got away with his crimes for so long or at least during the years I was there.
My story mirrors some of the testimonies that did come forward. There are many more people just like me who never did go to court. People like me who felt somehow their case was different. Maybe they weren’t a victim. Maybe their time with Larry Nassar was a real, legitimate treatment that just fell into a “gray” area.
I don’t want to be a victim of a pervert. I don’t want to be a person who allowed a sick man to violate me while truly trusting what he was doing was legit honest practice. I did not want to believe it. I convinced myself otherwise for years.
I could not go to court because I was telling myself that I couldn’t with 100% certainty say he was guilty. I told myself for nearly 20 years what went on in that exam room was professional. He always seemed straightforward. He always acted like a professional. I believed he was honest. I believed there is no way over the years that a doctor on the Olympic gymnastics team, with amazing credentials, with a family, who had done this exact same treatment on other athletes would abuse his position.
I thought a disgusting doctor who did this kind of thing would be easy to spot.
Well, like many others after I found out he plead guilty to these charges my jaw dropped. If he plead not guilty even after all these people coming forward I would still question if maybe I was not a victim even if our stories were so similar. But he did say guilty…so in that moment it was all true. I was no different than any one of his other patients that came forward.
That gray area I believed I was in was clearly anything but gray.
He did to me exactly what he had done to those women. He completely abused his power and fooled me into believing he had my best interest at heart. I am an intelligent person but I certainly was not expecting a conman to be my team doctor. I truly believe Larry Nassar not only fooled me and countless other student-athletes at MSU but the staff at the University as well during my time there. I cannot speak about any other time at MSU or any other interactions. Only my own.
I think if a witness had always been in the room they would not see anything strikingly unusual about his interactions with me. It was the slightest motions that were off. I don’t think an observer would pick it up. It was slight hand misplacement, slight adjustment misplacement. Just enough that made me wonder but not enough where it was obvious. It just made me think, “Was he supposed to do that or was it an accident?” Always while he seemed totally focused on the true reason I came in. Always “acting” like an honest doctor.
Yet, I always wondered if another doctor would do what he just did.
Do I blame MSU for not firing Larry back when I played soccer at MSU over 15 years ago? No, I don’t and here’s why.
They had no idea he was doing something that he shouldn’t from my personal experience. They were fooled just like me. I know I never said anything to my coach or anyone that worked for the university. I brought up my appointments with Larry Nassar to teammates and friends. I brought it up to people on different sports teams in the training facility to see if he worked on them in a similar way. It was a common response from all.
“He did that to me too. It’s normal. I’m sure it was an accident.”
I wrote it off in my mind because his techniques must have worked. It was just me being overly sensitive to it. I quieted the voice in my head telling me it could have been anything else and moved on. I view myself as a strong person. Not a fool who got mistreated by a pervert. There were so many with the same story back then.
For years I have wondered about this but always convinced myself his techniques fell into the gray area. That is why after it being nearly 20 years since my time at MSU I did not step forward to speak out. It was too gray for me. I could not participate in a trial when I was not 100% sure. Even after getting messages from former teammates and friends who remembered my stories from nearly 20 years ago. Finding out he actually pled guilty was the first time I recognized that I too was one of those girls.
I am still processing it.
Close friends who I shared this with since he plead guilty all ask me the same question, “Could you tell if he liked groping you?”
No, not at all. In my case, he definitely was not “groping me.” He always acted professionally. There was a time I recall another doctor or possibly a resident was in the room. He treated any part of my body the exact same way a doctor working on your knee would treat you. So as his patient I thought this must be legit and everything was ok or he wouldn’t allow another person in the room. Another time I thought maybe he just misplaced his hand. He seemed so focused on this adjustment maybe he just didn’t see where he planted it. He always acted professionally like any other doctor. It wasn’t as clear as what many people think it was at MSU during my interactions with him. I have other stories as well from his interactions with me but each time I questioned it because he always seemed to have a very legit answer.
I think looking back nearly 2 decades ago we were all sold by his conman ways. He was the highest level of the hierarchy in the medical field and in the training facility. I think everyone respected that greatly and looked up to him for guidance. His waiting room in his private physician office was always full whenever I went in. You see all these people waiting for him, his Olympic physician status, a Ph.D. and you think he must be so talented and we are lucky to have someone of this caliber at MSU. He knew all these techniques that get athletes back on the playing field. I think the school has honest people so an honest person assumes others are honest.
We ALL assumed Larry Nassar was honest. We had no idea who he really was back then.
Obviously better protocol needs to be in place not just at MSU but everywhere. I think just like random drug tests there need to be random tests asking people privately did anyone make you feel uncomfortable from doctors to weight room trainers, and so on.
I do NOT blame MSU for my interactions with him. I only blame Larry Nassar.
He knew exactly what he was doing. He admitted it. He was a manipulative person who will now be punished for the rest of his life for his actions.
I love Michigan State, I love my friends from MSU and my experience on the soccer team. I loved being part of the athletic program. NO MONSTER can take that away from me. Larry Nassar in my opinion was and is a horrible man and a conman. I believe we were all tricked by a disgrace of a doctor.
I want to remind you once again that I am a person. I am a victim of this monster who feels my side of the story for what happened during my time there is not being heard in the media. I think people assume it was very obvious what he did in all cases. I ask to please think that through.