Two-time Olympic gymnast and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman delivered a powerful statement at Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing on Friday, condemning the former Team USA Gymnastics doctor for taking advantage of young athletes' hopes and dreams. Although Raisman had previously said she would not appear in person during Nassar's sentencing hearing, the Olympic gold medalist said the statements of "other brave survivors" had made her realize she needed to be there and face Nassar herself.
"I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I've regained my strength, that I'm no longer a victim," Raisman said. "I'm a survivor."
Standing across from her abuser, Raisman said the women he'd "so heartlessly abused" over the years had now become "a force" while he was nothing. "The tables have turned, Larry. We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere," she said.
Raisman is one of more than 130 women and girls who have come forward to accuse Nassar of sexual assault. Several of Raisman's Olympic teammates have also said Nassar abused them, including Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, and Jordyn Wieber. Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting seven underage girls late last year and has been hearing impact statements from more than a hundred women, all of whom claim he abused them, as part of his sentencing hearing.
"The effects of your actions are far-reaching," Raisman told Nassar in court Friday. "Abuse goes way beyond the moment, often haunting survivors for the rest of their lives, making it difficult to trust and impacting their relationships."
Raisman went on to briefly detail how Nassar had manipulated her into thinking his abuse was part of a treatment. "You lied to me and manipulated me to think that when you treated me you were closing your eyes because you had been working hard when you were really touching me, an innocent child, to pleasure yourself," the gymnast said. "You never healed me. You took advantage of our passions and our dreams."
The gymnast also condemned USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee for enabling Nassar's abuse and "disrespecting" survivors by issuing what she called "false assurances." At one point she described USA Gymnastics as "an organization that is rotting from the inside."
"Both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee have been very quick to capitalize and celebrate my success," Raisman said. "But did they reach out when I came forward? No." A two-time member of the US women's Olympic gymnastics team — the "Fierce Five" in 2012 the "Final Five" in 2016 — Raisman has won a total of six Olympic medals during her career.
Raisman also lashed out at Nassar for having complained about having to face his survivors and listen to their stories. "You think this is hard for you?" Raisman said. "Imagine how all of us feel. Imagine how it feels to be an innocent teenager in a foreign country, hearing a knock on the door, and it's you."
Earlier this week, Nassar expressed concern about how having to listen to impact statements from his victims would affect his mental health in a six-page letter to the judge presiding over his case. In that same letter, Nassar also accused the judge of turning his sentencing proceedings into a "media circus" so she could sit in the spotlight a little longer.
Raisman isn't the only Olympic gymnast to have testified at Nassar's hearing. Jordyn Wieber, another member of the "Fierce Five," also spoke in court Friday, revealing for the first time ever that she, too, had been abused by Nassar. On Thursday, the court heard a statement from Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, who said Nassar began abusing her since when was 13 or 14 years old and had continued to do so until she retired from gymnastics in 2016 at the age of of 20.
Although Nassar is already serving a 60-year sentence for child pornography charges, a judge is currently mulling a sentence for the seven counts of criminal sexual contact he pleaded guilty to in November.