The list of prominent American gymnasts alleging sexual assault by former team doctor Larry Nassar grew a little bit longer on Friday afternoon. At his sentencing hearing, former Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber described being sexually assaulted by Nassar, marking the first time she's publicly identified herself as one of his victims. Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting underage girls last year, and was additionally convicted for possession of child pornography in a separate criminal case. He has already been sentenced to at least 60 years in prison for the latter, an effective life sentence.
Friday was the fourth day of Nassar's sentencing, during which many of the gymnasts who say he abused them confronted him in court. Perhaps the most forceful testimony on Friday came from Olympic gold medalist and former USA Gymnastics team captain Aly Raisman, who delivered a stinging 16-minute statement recounting her experiences, advocating for sexual assault survivors, and condemning Nassar.
Wieber, however, also joined the chorus. In publicly coming forward, Wieber is now the fourth member of the 2012 USA Gymnastics Olympic team, often dubbed the "Fierce Five" by the media, to allege that Nassar sexual abused her. She joins Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney in going public with her story. Nassar continued on as an Olympic team doctor through the 2016 games in Rio; gold medalist Simone Biles also says she was abused by Nassar.
Wieber began by saying that she once thought training as an Olympic gymnast would be the hardest thing she ever did. Now, however, she says the hardest experience of her life has been coming to grips with the fact that she was abused by Nassar.
"The hardest thing I've ever had to do was process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar," Wieber said. "It has caused me to feel shame and confusion, and I have spent months trying to think back on my experience, and wonder how I didn't even know this was happening to me, and how I became so brainwashed by Larry and by USA Gymnastics. Both of whom I thought were supposed to be on my side."
Noting that Nassar was known in her hometown of Lansing, Michigan, as "the best gymnastics doctor in the world," Wieber recounted how he gained her trust throughout her life, treating her from the age of 8 until she was 18. She further described Nassar bringing her food and coffee during the Olympics, which she now recognizes were "grooming techniques."
When I was 14 years old, I tore the hamstring in my right leg. This was when he started performing the procedure that we are all now familiar with. I would cringe at how uncomfortable it felt, he did it time after time, appointment after appointment, convincing me it was helping my hamstring injury. And the worst part is, I had no idea he was sexually assaulting me for his own benefit.
Wieber noted that USA Gymnastics recommended Nassar, and that he treated the team's gymnasts on a monthly basis at their training camps. She also said she discussed Nassar's behavior with Raisman and Maroney, and that all three of them were uncomfortable with it. She also said Nassar was allowed to treat girls unsupervised, even in hotel rooms, and that when she looks back on her injury-plagued 2012 Olympics, she questions whether he was doing anything to actually tend to her pain and medical needs.
"But even though I am a victim, I do not and will not live my life as one. I am an Olympian. Despite being abused, I worked so hard, and managed to achieve my goal. But I want everyone, especially the media, to know that despite my athletic achievements, I am one of over 140 survivors whose story is important. Our pain is all the same, and our stories are all important."
"And now, the people who are responsible need to accept responsibility for the pain they have caused me and the rest of the women who have been abused," she continued. "Larry Nassar is accountable. USA Gymnastics is accountable. The U.S. Olympic Committee is accountable. My teammates and friends have been through enough, and now it's time for change, because the current and future gymnasts do not deserve to live in anxiety and fear because they're unprotected like I was."