Here Is The Letter Aly Raisman Wanted To Read At Larry Nassar’s Sexual Assault Trial
On Thursday, disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. Nassar has been accused of sexual assault by 125 women, including high profile Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct in November and is awaiting sentencing. Judge Janet T. Neff, who awarded maximum sentencing for all three of Nassar’s crimes, told the courtroom, which was filled with many of Nassar’s alleged victims, “Mr. Nassar was, is and, in my view, will continue to be a danger to children. He has demonstrated that he should never again have access to children.”
One of Nassar’s accusers, gold medalist Aly Raisman, wrote a statement for the case that she had been told she would be allowed to read in court. When Neff decided that she would read the accusers’ statements privately, Raisman published the piece she was intending to read publicly in The Player’s Tribune.
In the exceptionally painful letter to Nassar, Raisman says that the trauma Nassar occasioned on her has affected her relationships, her ability to comfortably get medical treatment, and her Olympic training. Raisman says that she was forced to compartmentalize and repress her feelings to survive her grueling Olympics performance, and that she has developed an intense anxiety disorder for which she must seek medication. “I am trying now to take back my control, to remind myself that Larry has no power over me,” she writes. “I’ve decided that I can’t let him take gymnastics away from me.”
Raisman dedicated space in her statement to facts about abuse, noting that sexual assault happens once every 98 seconds, and that child molestation is not limited to girls. “Shame on you, Larry,” she wrote. “You are the worst example of humanity.”
Carrying on what has become a crusade against sexual assault and child molestation, particularly within the world of American gymnastics, Raisman held USA gymnastics and systematic blindness accountable for hers and others’ experiences. In an introduction to her statement, Raisman issued a powerful assertion about the way assault manifests:
Now, we need to change the cycle of abuse. We need to change the systems that embolden sexual abusers. We must look at the organizations that protected Nassar for years and years: USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic committee and Michigan State University. Until we understand the flaws in their systems, we can’t be sure something like this won’t happen again. This problem is bigger than Larry Nassar. Those who looked the other way need to be held accountable too.
Read Raisman’s brave statement in its entirety here.
Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny