On Tuesday, former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearing entered its sixth day. As part of the proceedings, former Team USA gold medalist Mattie Larson delivered a heart-wrenching victim impact statement. While she detailed her harrowing experiences, former teammate Aly Raisman, cheered Larson on for confronting Nassar, telling her in a tweet that she is an inspiration both in and out of the gym.
"Mattie, please don't ever forget when I was young, you were my favorite gymnast on the floor," Raisman wrote in a statement. "You inspired me and you still do to this day."
Raisman urged Mattie to be proud of herself, not just for her performance competitively, but for being brave enough to share her trauma before the courtroom:
And I know SO many others are inspired by your iconic floor routines and your bravery speaking out. You are a true role model and that is far more valuable than any medal you could ever win. I am so proud of you and stand behind you.
Larson, like many USAG athletes before her, used her victim impact statement as an opportunity to confront Nassar, who pled guilty to molestation charges in November of 2017. Part of the plea included the agreement that his victims would be allowed to address him during sentencing. More than 130 women and girls accused the former doctor abuse, and according to The Washington Post, 105 are expected to speak in court.
On Tuesday, Larson also spoke about now-infamous Karolyi Ranch in Texas, one of the locations Nassar operated out of. (The ranch, a United States Olympic training facility, is now reportedly under investigation.) In addition to being sexually abused by Nassar, Larson said that she and other gymnast faced brutal training regimens at Karolyi.
That combination, she said in her statement, once led her to hurt herself so that she would not be able to return:
One time, I was so desperate not to go I thought faking an injury bad enough was the only way out. I was taking a bath when I decided to push the bath mat aside, splash water on the tiles, get on the floor, and bang my head against the tub hard enough so I would get a bump, so it seemed like I slipped My parents immediately took me to the hospital because they thought I had a concussion. I was willing to physically hurt myself to get out of the abuse that I received at the ranch.
The abuse allegations against Nassar span decades — from the early 90s to 2016. It wasn't until August of that year, when Rachael Denhollander told police that Nassar abused her when she was 15 years-old, that the ex-doctor was called to task for his crimes. Subsequently, police raided Nassar's home, where they reportedly found more than 37,000 images of child pornography, including images of him abusing children. Nassar pled guilty to child pornography charges the following year, in July of 2017. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
The child pornography charges, however, are separate from the 10 sex crimes Nassar pled guilty to in November, seven of which he is currently being sentenced for. For the first round, he faces a mandatory minimum of 25 additional years, an agreement that was part of his November plea deal.
After this round of sentencing, however, Nassar will face a third judge from another county, where he be sentenced for three additional sex crimes, which he also pled guilty to. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who is overseeing his current sentencing, said she expects Nassar to spend the rest of his life behind bars.