Aly Raisman's Powerful Testimony at Larry Nassar's Sentencing Must Be Heard
Friday marked the fourth and final day of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearing, during which women and girls who have accused him of sexual abuse shared "victim impact statements." He was previously sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography, and this week’s court appearance in Michigan is for seven counts of sexual assault, to which he has pleaded guilty.
The women testifying against him included gymnasts Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, who were among the Fierce Five gold medalists at the 2012 Olympics. Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney have also publicly accused Nassar of abuse, meaning four out of the five members of that year's team have spoken out against him.
In court on Friday, Raisman delivered a powerful speech and addressed Nassar directly. “The tables have turned Larry,” she said. “We are here. We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.”
“You are so sick I can’t even comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you. 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,” she said directly to him. “Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well, you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice and I am only beginning to just use them.”
She moved on to call out all of the survivors.
“All these brave women have power and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve—a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors,” she said, moving on to explain she will not stop participating in gymnastics. “You already know you’re going away to a place where you won’t be able to hurt anybody ever again, but I am here to tell you that I will not rest until every last trace of your influence on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer that it is.”
Weiber also delivered a powerful testimony Friday in court, where she revealed that she too was a victim.
“When I was 14 years old, I tore my hamstring in my right leg. This is when he started performing the procedure that we are all now familiar with,” Wieber told the court. “I would cringe at how uncomfortable it felt. He did it time after time, appointment after appointment, convincing me that it was helping my hamstring injury. And the worst part was that I had no idea he was sexually abusing me for his own benefit. I knew it felt strange, but he was the national team doctor. Who was I to question his treatments, or even more, risk my chance at making the Olympic team or being chosen to compete internationally. And after all, he was recommended by the national team staff, and he treated us monthly at all of our national team camps. I even talked to my teammates, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, about this treatment, and how uncomfortable it made us feel. None of us really understood it.”
On Tuesday, Kyle Stephens, who was not a gymnast but a family friend of Nassar, kicked off testimonies against him. “You used my body for six years for your own sexual gratification. That is unforgivable,” she said. “I testify to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar, and that those treatments were pathetically veiled sexual abuse.”
“Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever,” she added. “They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
That same day, Simone Biles came forward with her own accusations against Nassar, though she did not appear in court. “I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” she wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper.”
This week, celebrities have taken to social media to support Nassar’s victims. Specifically, Chrissy Teigen offered to pay the $100,000 fine McKayla Maroney would have to incur if she delivered a statement in court due to a non-disclosure agreement. “I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you,” Teigen wrote on Instagram.
Following Teigen's tweet USA Gymnastics released a statement confirming that it "has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing."