— Law & Crime (@lawcrimenews) January 18, 2018
Former gymnast Lindsey Lemke spoke at length on Thursday during the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, accused by more than 100 girls and women of sexual abuse while he worked as a doctor for the USA Gymnastics team and at Michigan State University.
Nassar pleaded guilty in November to ten counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Lemke’s words were thorough. Sparing none of Nassar’s feelings, alleged piety or the enablers of his decades-long regime of abuse. The portion of her victim impact statement dealing with USA Gymnastics and MSU officials is being presented here in full.
Lemke: “I would now like to address all of the people who made this monster possible, if that’s okay?”
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina: “You may.”
Lemke then breathed in deep and said:
“To John Geddert, since you are too much of a coward to be here in court today and this week, I hope you are watching or listening to me right now. You and Larry carry a lot of the same characteristics. That’s funny. You are a disgrace. You ‘coached’ us–your athletes who paid you thousands and thousands of dollars–by fear to control us and to purposely scare us. Well, John, you are now the one who has failed. Not us. There has been no one to stand up to you until now.
“You not being in court this week has shown us that we, as your athletes, who went through your prison that you call an ‘award-winning gym’ were nothing to you but a dollar sign. You not being present this week finally shows that you are the one who is scared, not me. Because I finally am no longer afraid.
“My teammates and I spent way too many days as innocent children shaking, crying, trembling–some even trying to take their own lives because of you. And the sad part is: you don’t even know that because you could care less about us as people–as opposed to athletes who were your money-makers. While similar to what others have told Larry, I will say to you: those little girls that you treated like objects and things are all grown up now and are here to bring you hell.
“You talk about ‘an award-winning gym,’ well on behalf of every athlete you’ve ever ‘coached,’ and abused, you are welcome for your award-winning gym. That without us girls who put up with your crap for so many years, you wouldn’t even have. I hope your throat burns when you swallow those words: ‘award-winning gym,’ for you are not worthy of that. You are no one to me. You did nothing good for me. You belittled, berated, abused and took advantage of me. You brainwashed me and so did Larry. I couldn’t speak up for myself or I was seen as disrespectful. I didn’t have a voice, but now I do. So, I hope you are ready.
“What a great best friend John was to Larry. For giving him an entire world where he was able to abuse so easily. You two sure have a funny meaning of “friendship.” You, John Geddert, also deserve to sit behind bars–right next to Larry.
“To USAG, who I don’t think is here today, unfortunately, wish they were, but–I’m just going to be blunt and start by call you out for paying athletes millions of dollars to stay quiet about Larry Nassar. Thank you for proving to us why you are indeed responsible and need to be held accountable.
“Steve Penny, you are a coward. Resigning from your position to give responsibility to someone else for creating the environment to let this monster thrive.
“You, as in USAG, came into court this week–I’m assuming because you felt like you had to–not because you wanted to. You hid in that back corner hoping no one would see you or recognize you. Well, I hope the way you feel right now–the way you are hiding, being evasive, being cowards–sits with you heavy because that’s how we women feel and have felt for the past twenty-plus years.
“Scared of the public and scared to speak up. Just like you are right now. Well, you better learn to step it up and stop feeling sorry for yourselves. Because for all the women who have been able to speak and share their stories, we are the survivors and are here to tell you that we don’t feel sorry for ourselves anymore because we are working and healing. So, no, you don’t deserve to feel sorry for yourselves. I see USAG being praised on social media for their new focus to assure safety for their athletes…
“You’re already being praised for only talking about what you’re going to do. That’s disgusting. And what a slap in the face to us for the past however many years, whoever it may be, that they have not even taken action yet and they are already being praised. When you personally reach out to each and every survivor and make it up to every girl and their families–which will never be able to happen–that’s maybe when the 100-plus women and I will be able to forgive you. But I don’t see that as a possibility. We went through this for years. So, I hope you are ready to spend decades trying to make up for what you have done.
“And lastly, MSU, shame on you.
“I went public about my story back in January of 2016–and let me tell you, I was terrified. I was terrified because of what you would do to me. As a full-ride, athletics scholarship athlete on the gymnastics team, I was worried about my consequences and what they would be if you realized who I was and went public about my story. How messed up is that? You created the type of environment where victims were afraid to speak up. Little did I know, you did this for years. I was afraid my scholarship would be taken–that I worked so, so hard for. The scholarship that I went through years of abuse, by multiple people, to get.
“To Kathie Klages: I am so disgusted by you. Women who came up to you in 1997–and you told them that they would have consequences for speaking out about Larry–just the same as you told me 19 years later. That Larry would have negativity brought to his name if I were to speak about my story. Those women waited 19 years for you to get what you deserve because you silenced them for those 19 years.
“When the news broke about Larry from the IndyStar, you wanted your athletes to sign a card to tell this abuser and monster that we were thinking of him and praying for him. We also were brought into a room together and we were told by somebody on staff that we were not allowed to speak of the situation. You deserve to lose your job. You deserve what is coming to you. And we deserve to be victorious. You also belong with John and Larry behind bars because you knew what he was doing and you still chose to defend him. You are also a coward.
“To Lou Anna Simon: I don’t even know how you are still in the position that you are in. I don’t know how you can still call yourself a president because I don’t anymore. You are no president of mine as a student and former athlete of MSU. Guess what? You’re a coward, too.
“You say you aren’t responsible for any of this. I wish you would come up to this podium and be half as brave as all of us have had to be the past year and a half. To be brave enough to be a public survivor and a competing athlete of your university who let me down. To be brave enough to come up here and confidently tell us the reasons why you don’t think you are responsible. I love gymnastics so much. I–I love gymnastics. I still wore a Michigan State University leotard for an entire reason to compete for your school while you sat back and denied these accusations and basically called me a liar.
“Well, I’m here to tell you, Lou Anna Simon, Larry Nassar, John Geddert, and Kathie Klages, I had the best and most rewarding year of competition of my 17 years of gymnastics. None of you stopped me. I won and I defeated all of you.
“You, Lou Anna, will never be half the person I have become–or as all of these women who have had to deal with Larry Nassar. You will never be as strong. And you will never be as brave. Instead, you come to court and sit in the back row after being called out on social media for not being here. When put in front of the cameras, you show no emotion, you have no answers. When asked to be here for a survivor’s statement today, you stated that you are too busy to fit it in your schedule.
“Well, Lou Anna Simon, I can assure, none of us had the time in our schedules for the past five-to-twenty years for Larry Nassar to abuse us–but we had no choice. Neither did we have the time in our schedule for therapy, tears, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, sleepless nights, guilt, or for some, self-harm. But we did anyways. Because of you and the others who let Larry into our world.
“Your broad spectrum of emails that are sent to everyone–not specific survivors–that states that you are ‘sorry and working to fix this’…please stop and save yourself the pity party. Does that seriously make you feel better? We don’t care. It’s too late for your ‘sorry’s and trying to make sure that we are safe. You act innocent. You are hardly a president of any kind–especially of the university in which I still attend and frankly, I am proud to attend. Because I am too big of a person to ket your small-mined selves ruin my college experience. You are trying to manipulate people into thinking that you are innocent when you are not. As far as I’m concerned, you are just as bad as this monster that has attempted to ruin all of us. But he hasn’t and you won’t either.
“Larry, I hope you, Lou Anna Simon, Kathie Klages, John Geddert and all of USAG are scared because you have pissed off the wrong army of women. Thank you.”
(For Lemke’s full statement directed to Nassar himself, see here.)
[image via screengrab]