Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman received a resounding round of applause following her powerful 13-minute statement in a Michigan courtroom Friday as she directly addressed disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
The gold medalist, who first broke her silence about her years of abuse at the hands of Nassar last November, stood resolutely as she first stated and spelled out her full name before launching into an impact statement that touched upon Nassar’s inappropriate behavior, the difficult path toward healing and the organizations and individuals who enabled his actions for at least three decades.
“Larry, you do realize now the women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force, and you are nothing,” she said toward the beginning of her statement, directly addressing Nassar. “The tables have turned, Larry. We are here. We have our voices. And we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it’s your turn to listen to me.”
Raisman recounted how she first worked with Nassar in Australia, and how he “manipulated and violated” not just her, but so many other athletes and their families, all under the guise of providing “treatments” to heal their injuries.
“Imagine how it feels to be an innocent teenager in a foreign country, hearing a knock on the door, and it’s you,” she said. “I don’t want you to be there, but I don’t have a choice.” Treatments, Raisman added, were mandatory, and the athletes were told to trust their doctors.
“Lying on my stomach with you on my bed, insisting that your inappropriate touch would heal my pain. … You are so sick I can’t comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you,” she said.
Though Raisman spent a good portion of her impact statement directing her anger at Nassar, the athlete also had some cutting words for USA Gymnastics and the USOC, which employed Nassar and in some instances, Raisman claimed, protected him even when he was accused of sexual misconduct many years ago.
“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change,” she said. “But how are we to believe in change when these organizations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem? It’s easy to put out statements saying that athlete care is the highest priority. But they’ve been saying that for years when all the while this nightmare was happening. False assurances from organizations are dangerous, especially when people want so badly to believe them. They make it easier to look away from the problem and enable bad things to continue to happen.”
Raisman was the 73rd victim to speak this week before Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina, who has made it a point to extend the hearings however long necessary in order to accommodate for any survivors wanting to give their statements. At present, 120 women are expected to speak in total.
“I’m an adult, and I’m listening, and I’m sorry it took this long,” Aquilina said at the end of Raisman’s statement. “You are unstoppable. You are part of an unstoppable force.”
Nassar is already serving 60 years in prison on child pornography charges, and may face 125 more as part of a plea deal for molesting hundreds of girls spanning several decades.