Aly Raisman speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar (L), a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, US, January 19, 2018..
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Gold medal winning Jewish Olympian Aly Raisman faced her convicted sexual abuser in court on Friday, stoically delivering a powerful speech as she stared down former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
“The tables have turned, Larry,” Raisman said while speaking inside the Ingham County courtroom in Lansing, Michigan. “We are here. We have our voices and we are not going anywhere.”
The 23-year-old did not shed a tear during her 15-minute post-trial statement, declaring on behalf of all of the victims: “Larry, we are a force and you are nothing.”
Raisman said she had not planned to testify, but she was inspired by other victims who had taken the stand since Tuesday.
Gold medalist Aly Raisman blasts convicted sexual abuser in court (Reuters)
Her anger was targeted as well at USA Gymnastics and what she felt is a lackluster reaction to the scandal by newly installed CEO Kerry Perry. Perry, who attended the hearings earlier in the week, was not present on Friday.
“Unfortunately you have taken on an organization that is rotten from the inside,” Raisman said to Perry in absentia. “You will be judged by how you deal with this. We need an independent investigation into what happened, what went wrong and how we can avoid this in the future.”
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who has responded to each victim with words of encouragement, addressed Raisman.
“You are part of an unstoppable, growing force,” Aquilina said. “You are going to be truly awesome. From my perspective, being here and listening to countless people, you are so strong.”
Her statements came on the fourth day of a week-long sentencing hearing for Nassar.
The former Michigan University physician is already serving a 60-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in federal court in July to child pornography charges.
He faces an additional sentence that could range from 25 to 40 years, to life imprisonment.
Raisman, co-captain of the US women’s gymnastics squad at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games, said that the sport was “quick to capitalize on my success,” but failed to support her when she needed it most.
“[Did] they reach out when I came forward?” she asked in court. “No.”
Raisman was accompanied by her 2012 Olympic teammate Jordyn Wieber, who revealed for the first time that she was one of the many young women who was sexually assaulted by the team physician.
‘I’m a victim of Larry Nassar,’ announced Wieber.
More than 140 women have come forward publicly accusing Nassar of crimes, including Team USA stars Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.
RAISMAN ALONG with her “Fierce Five” teammates told ESPN’s Outside the Lines on 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,” she 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,” she said.
Raisman has been a frequent critic of USA Gymnastics, saying 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 on 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 okay, 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,” she said.
Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, once performed a floor routine to “Hava Nagila,” and at the 2012 London Games, she fought for a moment of silence for the Israelis slain by terrorists at the Munich Olympics.