Olympic gold medalist gymnast Aly Raisman delivered a 13-minute victim impact statement today in front of Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina and Larry Nassar himself, in which she excoriated not just Nassar for his sexual abuses against herself and nearly 150 other athletes, but also USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for what she sees as a systematic enabling of his crimes and an inadequate response to the devastating scandal on their doorstep.
Raisman reached out to prosecutors last week asking to testify, and she did so with such a deliberate and severe tone, shying away from none of the injustices she and her fellow athletes have endured.
Early in her statement, she appeared to look at Nassar himself, and said coldly: “You do realize now the women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force, and you are nothing.”
She responded to a statement Nassar provided yesterday, telling the judge he was unsure if he had the mental stamina to listen to so many victim impact statements. Raisman did not mince words, telling her abuser that he is “pathetic to think that anyone would have sympathy for you.” She told Nassar that she and the other athletes he abused “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.”
But Raisman’s most focused contempt came for USA Gymnastics and the USOC, and how they allowed the state of the sport to be uniquely influenced by Nassar. Both institutions received complaints about his abuses spanning back decades.
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She told Nassar that she “will not rest until every last trace of your influence on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer it is,” and, in addressing new USA Gymastics CEO Kerry Perry, said she had “taken on an organization that I feel is rotting from the inside.”
“This may not be what you thought you were getting into,” she said, “but you will be judged by how you deal with it.”
Raisman is clearly fed up with the USAG’s toothless statements and responses to the growing crisis within its sport, saying that “continuing to issue statements of empty promises thinking that will pacify us will no longer work.”
She begged USA Gymnastics and the USOC to conduct full and independent investigations into how Nassar’s abuses were allowed to go on for so long, and clean out any and all people who failed to protect her and her fellow gymnasts.
“I have represented the USA in two Olympics and have done so successfully,” Raisman said. “And both USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee have been very quick to capitalize and celebrate my success, but did they reach out when I came forward?
“No,” and then she paused.
For this sport to go on, we need to demand real change, and we need to be willing to fight for it. It’s clear now that if we leave it up to these organizations, history is likely to repeat itself.
Now is the time to acknowledge that the very person who sits before us now—who perpetrated the worst epidemic of sexual abuse in the history of sports, who is going to be locked up for a long, long time—this monster was also the architect of policies and procedures that are supposed to protect athletes from sexual abuse for both USA Gymnastics and the USOC.
Raisman asked the judge to sentence Nassar to the strongest possible allowed by law to send a message to abusers that their time is up. She added: “Please, your honor, stress the need to investigate how this happened so we can hold accountable those who enabled Larry Nassar.”
At the end of her statement, Aquilina looked at Raisman and said: “I’m an adult, and I’m listening, and I’m sorry it took this long.”