Nassar abuse survivor on former MSU Gymnastics coach: ‘She truly enabled him’

Posted at 9:47 PM, May 07, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- It’s one of hundreds of heartbreaking stories involving survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of former famed sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Larissa Boyce is sharing her story, speaking to a culture and system breakdown that nurtured the crimes of a pedophile.

She tells FOX 17 it’s something that should have been prevented decades ago.

Boyce is believed to be one of the first female gymnasts to tell then-Michigan State University head gymnastics coach Kathie Klages about questionable treatments she received from Nassar more than 20 years ago.

Boyce said her claims, sadly, never made it to police or administrators at MSU.

She recalls vivid memories from the day she told Klages, who was also the coach at Spartan Youth Gymnastics Club, about her uncomfortable treatments from Nassar.

“She sat down and said, ‘Well, I can file something, but it’s going to cause a lot of trouble for both you and Dr. Nassar,'” Boyce said.

Klages never filed a police report and didn’t tell Boyce’s parents.

Boyce said that all these years later, she wishes she had gone to someone else.

“I did not want to talk about it with anyone after that night, because I felt so humiliated and embarrassed and stupid for even bringing that up.”

She said she was guilted into silence and instead questioned herself because of Nassar’s reputation as a world-renowned sports doctor.

So, the abuse kept going.

Boyce said, “At my next appointment he sat me down and asked me about it, talked to him about it and I apologized to him. I said it was all my fault, all a big misunderstanding, I’m so sorry. Then I hopped right back up on the table and he continued to abuse me.”

The abuse went on for more than 4 years, even after Boyce stopped doing gymnastics.

“I lost all joy in the sport. I felt like I was in trouble every single time I went to practice, I felt like everyone was looking at me and thinking that I was a liar or trying to get attention by saying what I said.”

That pain and confusion all buried until 2016, when another survivor, Rachel Denhollander, went public with her abuse allegations. Even then, it took Boyce months to come to terms with the truth.

“I’m still processing it. It’s hard after 20 years of believing that I was thinking of it wrong. 20 years of believing that this was a medical treatment.”

In January 2018, Boyce, along with hundreds of other survivors, showed the world they wouldn’t be ignored any longer when Larry Nassar was sentenced in Ingham County to 40 to 175 years in prison.

Boyce said writing her victim impact statement for Nassar's sentencing, using her name instead of “Jane Doe,” was one of the hardest things she’s ever done.

“Even during the week of sentencing, I was revising it, adding more to it. Even the morning of the day that I gave my statement, I was still revising stuff.”

Boyce added, having Judge Rosemarie Aquilina presiding over the case made the process almost therapeutic, especially when Nassar requested to stop the victim impact statements because they were too difficult for him to hear.

Boyce said she almost couldn’t believe what she had heard.

“It was just, ‘are you kidding me?’ After everything he put us through and everything that we’re  going to be dealing with for years and years, he can’t even sit in that room and listen to how he hurt us for a couple days?”

But, Boyce said once she was finished with her statement, it was like a weight had been lifted.

“It was a weight lifted off of me, I still feel like there’s still so much that needs to be done.”

Klages ended up retiring last February, one day after being suspended from MSU over the way she handled a team meeting the day allegations against Nassar went public.

FOX 17 did reach out to Kathie Klages’ attorney, but he said they cannot comment on pending litigation, which included several lawsuits against both her and MSU.