CHICAGO: Gymnastics star Aly Raisman on Friday (Jan 19) faced down disgraced national team doctor Larry Nassar in court, calling him “sick” and demanding an independent probe to find out how he was apparently able to abuse young girls for years with impunity.
|(L-R) Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney – all members of the 2012 gold-medal winning Olympic gymnastics team, shown here in 2013 – have now all said they were abused by ex-team doctor Larry Nassar. (Photo: AFP/Paul A Hebert)|
Raisman’s statement came on day four of searing testimonies from Nassar’s victims at his sentencing hearing. At least 85 victims have spoken and more have signed up to speak on Monday when the session is to resume, officials said.
“You are so sick. I can’t even comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you,” Raisman, now 23, told the court in Michigan, where Nassar has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct. He faces life in prison.
“You took advantage of our passions and our dreams,” she added.
Raisman slammed the institutions where Nassar worked and was seemingly able to commit abuse undetected, lashing out at USA Gymnastics for “rotting from the inside.”
“Even now, after all that has happened, USA Gymnastics has the nerve to say the very same things it has said all along. Can’t you see how disrespectful that is? Can’t you see how much that hurts?” she said.
“We need an independent investigation of exactly what happened, what went wrong, and how it can be avoided for the future. Only then can we know what changes are needed.”
WIEBER ADDS HER NAME TO VICTIM LIST
Raisman’s statements came shortly after her 2012 Olympic teammate Jordyn Wieber publicly revealed for the first time that she also had been abused by Nassar, starting from age 14.
“The hardest thing I ever had to do is process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar,” said a noticeably nervous Wieber, who is now 22.
“He treated us monthly at all of our national team camps,” she added. “I knew it felt strange, but he was the national team doctor. Who was I to question his treatments?”
Raisman, Wieber and two other members of the so-called “Fierce Five” 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning squad – Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney – have all said Nassar molested them in the guise of medical treatment.
Olympians Simone Biles, the reigning all-around champion from the Rio Games in 2016, and Jamie Dantzscher, who competed in Sydney in 2000 and took home a bronze medal, have also revealed that they were abused.
The 54-year-old Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts, but prosecutors and civil attorneys have said there are more than 100 victims.
The list includes his onetime family babysitter and athletes in several women’s sports programs at Michigan State University, where Nassar worked.
He is already facing 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
This week, victims came forward one after the next to give impact statements to the judge who is considering Nassar’s sentence.
The women have spoken of the profound consequences of his abuse – such as struggling with depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide, and of parents suffering with guilt.
“I feel like I have lost all enjoyment in life … I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to go to work. I don’t want to shower,” Amy Labadie said in court Friday.
UNIVERSITY UNDER FIRE
Many of the victims over the past four days have criticised USA Gymnastics, MSU and the US Olympic Committee for not stopping Nassar sooner.
Under mounting pressure, USA Gymnastics announced Thursday it would cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch, a longtime training centre for elite athletes in Huntsville, Texas – where Biles says she was abused by Nassar.
Raisman was however unmoved by their announcement, saying Friday that gymnasts were still training at the center as the announcement was being made.
“Where is the honesty? Where is the transparency? Why must the manipulation continue?” she said.
Michigan State University’s board of trustees on Friday asked the state’s attorney general’s office to conduct an outside review.
“We are making this request because we believe your review may be needed to answer the public’s questions concerning MSU’s handling of the Nassar situation,” the trustees said in a letter.