Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison Thursday for possessing child pornography.
Nassar is awaiting sentencing on 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct, as several women, including United States Gold Medalists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, have come forward saying Nassar sexually assaulted them while in his care.
After the 54-year-old was sentenced Thursday, Raisman published an article on The Players’ Tribune that included a powerful statement she was hoping to read at Nassar’s hearing. Judge Janet T. Neff ruled that the victim impact statements would not be read in the court, but would just be read by the judge in her chambers.
Here is part of Raisman’s statement:
I am writing this letter to share some of my story, in hopes that it will help others understand the profound impact Larry’s abuse has had on me, how his betrayal of trust has changed me and how his actions years ago continue to affect my daily life.
From the age of eight, all I wanted to do was go to the Olympics. I loved gymnastics with all my heart, and worked as hard as I could. Larry, you knew how badly I wanted to be the best I could be, you knew how hard I worked, and that I would do absolutely anything to be on the team. You were my doctor, and like most people, I was taught to trust doctors. I believed that you had my best interests at heart, and you made sure that message was reinforced, insisting your inappropriate touch was for medical reasons and that your care would help me get to the Olympic Games. You promised me that you would heal my injuries. You gave me gifts to make me think you were a good person, to make me believe you were my friend. You were nice so that we would trust you, to make it easier for you to take advantage of so many people, including me. But you lied to me. You lied to all of us.
Raisman then discussed the trauma she continues to deal with since Nassar’s abuse.
I am trying now to take back my control, to remind myself that Larry has no power over me. It is never easy, but I am fighting to believe that the sport — which I do love — is independent of Larry and those who allowed him to do what he did. I’ve decided that I can’t let him take gymnastics away from me.
Despite my best efforts to regain control, I still have my triggers. My work requires frequent travel, and I feel anxious traveling by myself. I find myself constantly looking around, paranoid and afraid to be alone. When I am at a hotel by myself and I order room service, I worry a male will deliver the food. I’ve had to develop strategies and coping mechanisms. If a male knocks on the door, my heart begins to race. I hold the door open as he drops off the food and keep it open until he leaves. I often wonder if I am hurting their feelings by being so obviously distrusting of them. I always used to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if a decorated doctor who served on the national team for over 30 years turned out to be a monster, then how can I trust anybody? Now, I’ll often catch myself being scared that people I meet are like Larry. And I hate that. I hate that Larry took away my trust of others.
Throughout Raisman’s entire article, the prevailing theme is that all of the victims are survivors and that she hopes her story will encourage others to speak out against sexual abuse.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images