Larry Nassar boasted that people called him “the body whisperer” because of his close connections with his patients, according to a 2014 police report.
“Most of the time my eyes are closed … Use the force, you feel it,” Nassar told a detective investigating him after a young woman said he sexually abused her. “It is a conceptual thing. It is you, the patient, and the spirit.”
Nassar’s comment came as part of a Michigan State University Police report looking into Amanda Thomashow’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in March 2014.
In the interview, Nassar defended his actions as a form of medical treatment; the investigation did not result in any criminal charges. A related Title IX investigation at Michigan State concluded that his methods were medically appropriate.
The police interview — part of documents obtained by CNN this week — partly illuminates how Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor and professor at Michigan State University, was able to sexually abuse young girls for more than two decades without being caught.
Far from the meek man in court these past few weeks, the Nassar in this interview was confident and boastful, suggesting at one point that he perform the procedure on a police officer to prove its value. “I was more in tune to the person’s body, that is what makes me the doctor that I am.”
A review of the police interview shows Nassar as master manipulator, at turns apologizing and criticizing himself for making a patient feel violated, even as he defended his procedures as purely medical and suggested that Thomashow was the real problem.
“Why didn’t she say something if she was feeling violated,” Nassar told police. “My understanding was that she felt better. The pain was going away, she was getting better. I was in constant communication. Those are my frustrations.”
Nassar’s abuse of patients continued until late summer 2016, when the Indianapolis Star published a story featuring allegations from Rachael Denhollander that Nassar abused her. After that story, dozens of women came forward to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, and he was first arrested in November 2016.
Nassar has since pleaded guilty to federal charges of child pornography and 10 state charges of criminal sexual conduct in two Michigan counties. As part of a plea deal, he admitted that he sexually abused young girls under the guise of providing a medical treatment.
Michigan State has said it did not cover up the assault and said it, too, was manipulated by Nassar.
“It is clear that Nassar fooled everyone around him — patients, friends, colleagues, and fellow doctors at MSU,” school attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to the Michigan attorney general’s office.
‘I feel like this little deviant’
In the police interview, Nassar admits that he did touch Thomashow’s vagina, buttocks and breasts, but he said it was part of a medical treatment focused on the “pelvic floor.”
“There is no question I was touching her in her private areas, that is what I do,” Nassar said, according to the police report.
“I went to DO (osteopathic) school for the hands-on stuff,” he added.
Nassar said this was a normal procedure that he performed on everyone, whether 10 years old or 84 years old, according to the police report. He brought his computer to the police interview and showed the detective videos in which he performs the procedure, which he claimed could fix any number of physical injuries.
“I can fix their rib by touching their bottom,” he claimed, according to the police report.
In Michigan State University’s Title IX investigation, Nassar said that he had a PowerPoint presentation dedicated to the procedure. One of the slides contained “Star Trek” images and was entitled, “Pelvic floor: Where no man has gone before,” according to the Title IX report.
Nassar maintained to police in the interview and in emails that his real error was in a lack of communication. He did not fully explain the procedure to Thomashow beforehand, he told police, and he said he didn’t realize the former cheerleader, then 24, was uncomfortable.
“I am totally taken by surprise, but at the same time I feel like crap that someone feels like I was doing something inappropriate to them,” he said.
“I feel like this little deviant, that is not right. My wife, we didn’t even have sex until our honeymoon, that is the essence of who I am.”
Thomashow has no doubts about what happened.
She was stunned as she put her clothes back on after the examination. Nassar wouldn’t let her leave the room until she made a follow-up appointment, which she later canceled.
“Something awful happened in that examination room … life had taught me enough to know that what happened was wrong,” she told CNN.
Thomashow told police in her interview that she did tell Nassar to stop touching her private area, but he continued.
“I had to literally stand up and push him off me,” Thomashow told CNN.
Yet Nassar did not recall that interaction, he told police. Even as he expressed regret, he also said Thomashow should have spoken up if she felt violated.
“She did not vocalize anything to me that she was feeling offended. If she is feeling better, what ticked her off to start thinking what the heck is this guy doing,” he told police, according to the report.
Nassar said he did not generally do the procedure on nonathletes like Thomashow. But he said he did it on her as a “favor” to her mother, who he knew personally, according to the police report. In a letter to a university dean, the doctor said he has been referred to in magazines as “‘The Dream Builder’ because I help athletes accomplish their dreams.”
In the police interview, Nassar said that in three previous cases, when he was treating minors, patients who had issues with his medical procedures were themselves sexual abuse victims, according to the report.
“If someone is tensing up or having an issue, I wonder if they were sexually abused in the past,” he told police. “Each time it has been with a minor and then I talk to the parent.”
Finally, Nassar claimed that he would change things in his office to avoid further issues, according to police.
“Hurting someone like that is not right. That hurts me, to hurt her,” he said. “Something has to change. All these years of work is done. I can not do this to another person. It’s about morals and ethics and how people feel.”