'Tables have turned'

Powerful moment in court as Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman confronts disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar

Former gymnast Aly Raisman speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, (R) a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 19, 2018. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman appeared in Ingram County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan, on Thursday to confront Larry Nassar, the disgraced doctor and serial sexual abuser who has been hearing from his many victims all week. A statement from Raisman was expected to be read in court, similar to how one from McKayla Maroney was read on Thursday, but the Olympic legend surprised onlookers when she strode into the courtroom and took a seat a few feet away from Nassar, ABC News reported.

Raisman spoke for 13 minutes, saying at the beginning of her remarks that she was scared and nervous and unsure that she’d be able to show up to face him. But, she added, she took strength from hearing his other victims bravely confront him.

“The tables have turned, Larry,” Raisman said. “We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it’s your turn to listen to me. There is no map that shows you the pathway to healing. Realizing that you are a survivor of sexual abuse is really hard to put into words. I cannot adequately capture the level of disgust I feel when I think about how this happened. Larry, you abused the power and trust I and so many others placed in you, and I am not sure I will ever come to terms with how horribly you manipulated and violated me.”

Raisman went on to chastise Nassar for abusing the tremendous trust placed in him by the gymnastics community and spoke about the far-reaching effects his actions have had on her and the other victims. And then, in a powerful turn, she spoke about her ability to overcome what his crimes had done to her.

Former gymnast Jordyn Wieber speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, (foreground) a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid – RC1EB5767120

“I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I’ve regained my strength, that I’m no longer a victim. I’m a survivor. I am no longer that little girl you met in Australia, where you first began grooming and manipulating. As for your letter yesterday,” Raisman added, referring to Nassar’s note to the judge saying he couldn’t take listening to any more victim impact statements, “you are pathetic to think that anyone would have any sympathy for you.”

She concluded by taking aim at the culture and the people who allowed Nassar to remain in his position for so long. “Let this sentence strike fear in anyone who thinks it is OK to hurt another person. Abusers, your time is up. The survivors are here, standing tall, and we are not going anywhere. And please, your honor, stress the need to investigate how this happened so that we can hold accountable those who empowered and enabled Larry Nassar. So we can repair and once again believe in this wonderful sport,” she said.

“My dream is that one day everyone will know what the words, ‘me, too,’ signify, but they will be educated and able to protect themselves from predators like Larry so that they will never, ever, ever have to say the words, “me, too.”

Raisman’s statement was not the only surprise in court on Friday. Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber revealed publicly for the first time that she was sexually abused Nassar as well. “I thought that training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing that I would ever have to do,” Wieber told the court. “But in fact, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is process that I’m a victim of Larry Nassar.”

Watch Raisman’s statement below.

Read the full story at NBC Sports.


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