Aly Raisman receives a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On the same day former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar began a four-day sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman blasted the sport's national governing body, calling it complicit in allegedly covering up her own sexual assault at the hands of the team physician.
Nassar, 54, was in a Lansing, Mich., courtroom Tuesday in the first day of the hearing where he will reportedly face 88 women and girls over four days expected to provide victim-impact statements that allege sexual abuse. His sentence could range from a lesser 25-to-40 years to a maximum up to life. The former doctor was already sentenced to 60 years in federal prison over child pornography charges in December.
Over 140 women have come forward publicly accusing Nassar of crimes, including Team USA stars Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Raisman, who told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" Tuesday that she felt "threatened" to stay silent despite revealing her story.
"For so long, I had been manipulated, and I was very confused — as many people are," Raisman said. "Sometimes you don't really realize you're being abused because Larry was such a master manipulator, and he was so good at brainwashing me and so many other people. So the second that I realized it did happen to me, I told my mom, and then we told USA Gymnastics."
"And, to me, it seemed like they threatened me to be quiet. Their biggest priority from the beginning — and still today — is their reputation, the medals they win and the money they make off of us."
Raisman has been a frequent critic of USA Gymnastics after Nassar's story, alleging earlier this month that the organization would shame gymnasts in effort to convince them to stay silent.
"I don't think that they care," she said Tuesday. "If they cared, then the second they realized I was abused, they would have reached out, asked if I needed therapy, asked if I was OK, asked what they could have done, and they would have made a big change.
"Instead, they allowed Larry to continue to work on little girls in Michigan and molest gymnasts for a very long time, and that's just — I don't know how they sleep at night. I'm so angry that after realizing that we were abused, they let him continue to molest other gymnasts when they told me there was an investigation going on. They told me to be quiet, and I thought they were doing the right thing, and I didn't want to tip off the investigation. I trusted them and I shouldn't have."
Her Olympic teammate, Maroney, filed a lawsuit last month against the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, alleging she was forced to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to prevent her from going public with any allegations against Nassar. Maroney has said she signed the reported $1.25 million settlement in December 2016 after "years of psychological trauma" and molestation. According to the arrangement, which included nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses, Maroney or her parents could open themselves to being sued for over $100,000 for breaking the settlement.
USA Gymnastics responded they were "disappointed" over Maroney's lawsuit in a statement, but also said they "applaud McKayla and others who speak up against abusive behavior, including the despicable acts of Larry Nassar."