Aly Raisman Delivered a Passionate Victim Impact Statement About Larry Nassar
She also criticized the response from USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Aly Raisman delivered a strong impact statement today in a courtroom in Michigan, facing down the man who abused her and is accused of abusing scores of other gymnasts and other young female athletes. But as she made clear in her statement, she is not content just to see Larry Nassar behind bars.
“You do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force, and you are nothing. The tables have turned, Larry,” she said in a victim impact statement in a Michigan courtroom. “We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.”
Nassar, the former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic gymnastics team, pleaded guilty last year to sexually abusing girls and young women. He was convicted at trial and has been hearing impact statements from more than 100 women who say he took advantage of his position to molest them.
The court has heard multiple stories from the survivors already. Raisman, a Needham native, came forward with her story of abuse by Nassar in November. On Friday she described how Nassar “manipulated and violated” his young victims, and she criticized him as “pathetic” for a letter he sent to judge Rosemarie Aquilina arguing that he didn’t have the mental stamina to endure four days of hearing from the group of survivors. She asked Aquilina to give him the “strongest possible sentence.”
Much of her speech, however, was dedicated to criticizing the response of U.S.A. Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee, which she says enabled his decades of abuse, ignored the women who spoke up about his behavior, and did too little in response. She says it’s time for that to change.
“I will not rest until every last trace of your influence on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer it is,” she told him.
You should really watch the whole thing, below, or read the full text over at Buzzfeed. On several occasions, she can be seen staring directly at Nassar as she speaks. If both of those organizations aren’t drafting serious, substantive responses to this kind of passionate leadership from Raisman, they most certainly should be.
“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change,” she said. “But how can I believe in change when these organizations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem?”
Aly Raisman: “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?” https://t.co/610O3zPfhF pic.twitter.com/wU0xzX0n00
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 19, 2018
In particular she singled out USA Gymnastics’ President and CEO Kerry Perry, who she accused of making “empty promises” and speaking in meaningless platitudes about how seriously the organization takes its athletes’ safety. She called on Perry, who took on the role in December of 2017, to turn the system upside down.
“You’ve taken on an organization that I feel is rotting from the inside. While this may not be what you thought you were getting into, you will be judged by how you deal with it,” Raisman said. “A word of advice: Continuing to issue statements of empty promises and thinking that will pacify us will no longer work.”
She has demanded that USA Gymnastics and the USOC use independent investigators to get to the bottom of how the abuse was allowed to persist for so long. Raisman condemned the committee’s announcement in 2016 that it would not launch such an investigation, as well as the USOC’s insistence that it has “a state-of-the-art policy” for reporting and preventing abuse.
“At this point talk is worthless to me,” she said. “We’re dealing with real lives and the future of our sport. We need to believe this won’t happen again. For this sport to go on, we need to demand real change. We need to be willing to fight for it. It’s clear now that if you leave it up to these organizations, history is likely to repeat itself.”
Watch Aly Raisman’s powerful speech at the sentencing of serial sexual harasser and former USA gymnastic doctor Larry Nassar.https://t.co/CUZV2BSpB6
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeagueTSL) January 19, 2018