Dear President Simon,
This letter is in response to the news of the charges that have been brought against Dr. Larry Nassar.
Please tell us all: How did things get this bad? Did Nassar really go under the radar for nearly two decades? How? Why has no one at the school contacted my peers or me - his former patients?
When I chose Michigan State and signed my letter of intent, it was based on the display of and emphasis on integrity. Integrity is what sold me on this University. Integrity is exactly what I need to see now from my beloved Michigan State.
I am proud to be a Spartan and Michigan State was extremely generous and good to me.The University and athletic staff fully supported me through my chronic injuries and my diagnosis of the chronic pain condition Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and for that I am truly grateful.
But I am deeply troubled, sickened, disturbed and ultimately let down by the news of the allegations against Larry Nassar; most especially given his role in my rehabilitation.
I am horrified by the news that athletic staff like Gymnastics Coach Klages had knowledge of potential abuse. I am angry to know that I was treated by Larry Nassar for 4 years, when members of Michigan State staff knew of alleged wrongdoing.
I recently became aware that due to complaints against Nassar by MSU athletes, a panel had been put in place by the University to review the claims, and ultimately measures were taken so that he would not be left alone with a patient.
But I was left alone with Nassar on a number of occasions. I received treatments which seemed odd, only to be reassured by Nassar and/or the trainer. I can also tell you that I was led to believe that it was a privilege that Nassar allocated his limited time to me. I was made to feel special - the great Larry Nassar was my doctor and my case, my condition, was severe enough that I was deserving of his help.
I recall one trainer who inexplicably made me wait outside Nassar’s exam room for every appointment until she was ready to go in with me. “Why?” I wondered. Now, I think I know.
Three years later, it is increasingly clear to me that some of the treatments I received walked a very fine line between what was and was not medically necessary.
It is outrageous that a University - of this caliber no less - allowed this doctor to treat young athletes who put their full trust in him and the word of their coaches and other athletic staff; allowed him to put his hands on our bodies; allowed him to perform controversial treatment procedures that often times blurred the lines of what was medically necessary; allowed him to examine and treat us, in various stages of undress, often alone in a room without another person present.
Equally outrageous is the way the University has handled this situation in the wake of these allegations. I can’t understand how little it seems the University has done to connect with Dr. Nassar's former patients now that these allegations are public. And why was so much done to keep the truth about the situation from his present and former patients in the first place? That decision has only led to more pain and suffering.
I have read President Simon’s letter to the MSU community regarding the charges. I am glad to know Dr. Nassar was fired almost immediately upon news of these allegations. I am glad to know Coach Klages was suspended and that she later resigned. I am glad to know the University is taking measures to reinforce and strengthen policies surrounding matters like these - though, I would like a more clear explanation of what this looks like.
Never-the-less. despite all of this, I have not, as a former patient of Dr. Nassar for nearly four years, heard from anyone at the University directly. Many of my peers and fellow patients of Dr. Nassar have not heard from the University either.
It may very well have been nearly impossible to write each one of his patients for the last 20 years, but it should have been done. Acknowledge the situation and offer support to anyone who might have suffered at the hands of Dr. Nassar.
It is impossible for me to believe the University is truly attempting a full investigation when it has not contacted his former patients. If a full investigation were being done, the University should at least offer to listen to Dr. Nassar’s former patients to try to gather as much information as possible and offer support to anyone who might want or need it.
It is painful to live with the knowledge that a predator was enabled by silent bystanders to have access to my body for 4 years, and to know that many of my teammates and athletic peers were put at risk and may have suffered at his hands. It is most painful to me that my University has not had the integrity to reach out to Dr. Nassar’s former patients, apologize and offer its support to them.
I want answers. I want to know how things got so bad. I want to know who kept reports of his abuse private. I want to know why it took so long to figure out he was dangerous.
Most of all, I would like to see Michigan State live up to its high standards. Own its mistakes. Connect with all former patients of Nassar. And show compassion, care and concern for all of us.
The lack of transparency may protect Nassar but it does not protect your reputation or the University’s. Those have been damaged severely. (See e.g. Penn State/Sandusky.)
Secrecy and avoidance of the truth fosters distrust and it degrades any sense of community.
Member of the Michigan State Rowing Team
4-Year Patient of Dr. Larry Nassar
Class of 2014
Lou Anna Simon, University President firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Hollis, Athletic Director AD@ath.msu.edu
Richard Bader, Assistant Athletics Director email@example.com
Jim Pignataro, Executive Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Kovan, Director of Sports Medicine, email@example.com
Angela Montie, Director of Student Athletic Development firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Weise, Women’s Rowing Coach email@example.com
To learn more about the case, see below: