The 2012 U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team — better known as the “Fierce Five” — and dozens of other young gymnasts were subjected to unimaginable horrors for years at the hands of the lecherous Olympic pedophile doctor who treated their injuries. Dr. Larry Nassar has been forced to listen to many of his accusers testify in the packed Michigan courtroom this week ahead of his sentencing next week.
Since September 2016, 125 women have filed complaints to police against Nassar alleging sexual abuse and more than 150 have filed civil suits.
Two members of the 2012 team, gymnasts Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, were together again on Friday to testify against Dr. Nassar, and to shame the institutions that allowed him to molest his patients.
Wieber was the fourth member of the Fierce Five to accuse Nassar of “using an ungloved hand to violate her under the guise of medical treatments.”
“He did it time after time, appointment after appointment,” she said at a podium, while Nassar sat in the witness box across from her. “I had no idea he was sexually abusing me for his own benefit,” she said. “I knew it felt strange.”
— Jordyn Wieber (@jordyn_wieber) January 19, 2018
Wieber, who is from Michigan, where Nassar had his sports medicine practice, told the court that he began treating her when she was eight years old. He “showered her with attention and affection and became a trusted friend.”
“I didn’t know these were all grooming techniques he used to manipulate me,” she said.
Wieber said Nassar started molesting her when she was 14 after she suffered an injury.
“This is when he started performing the procedure we are all so familiar with,” she said.
She spoke to Raisman and Maroney about Nassar’s technique, but none of them really understood it, she said. After Wieber made the 2012 Olympics team, she got a painful stress fracture. Her teammates were also struggling physically.
“Our bodies were all hanging by a thread when we were in London,” she said. “Who was the doctor USA Gymnastics sent to help us get through? The doctor who was our abuser.”
Nassar — incredibly — was allowed into the dorm rooms with no supervision during his sessions.
“Nobody was protecting us from being taken advantage of,” she said. “My parents trusted USA Gymnastics and Larry Nassar to take care of me and we were betrayed by both.”
Like many of the other victims, Wieber said that “once she realized that she had been abused, she became angry for not recognizing it earlier.”
“But even though I am a victim, I do not and will not live my life as one,” she said.
Raisman initially said she would not attend the hearing because it would be too traumatic for her.
I will not be attending the sentencing because it is too traumatic for me. My impact letter will be read in court in front of Nassar. I support the brave survivors. We are all in this together. #StopAbuse
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) January 15, 2018
Then she saw the impact statements of some of her colleagues:
'Little girls don't stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.'
Kyle Stephens confronts former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar at his sentencing [WARNING: Graphic] pic.twitter.com/MGpepEVYER
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 16, 2018
Inspired, Raisman boldly stared Nassar down on Friday: “We’re a force and you are nothing,” she said.
“The tables have turned. We are here. We have our voices and we are not going anywhere,” she added.
In a letter to the judge earlier this week, Nassar complained that it was “too difficult for him to listen to victim testimony.”
Raisman was not sympathetic.
“You are pathetic to think anyone would have any sympathy for you,” she said, her voice dripping with contempt. “You think this is hard for you? Imagine how all of us feel.”
“Imagine,” she continued, “how it feels to be an innocent teenager in a foreign country, getting a knock on the door — and it was you.”
Both Wieber and Raisman have also directed their anger toward USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for allowing the disgraced doc unfettered access to the young girls when they were away from home.
USA Gymnastics, the national governing body of the sport, showed up at one of the hearings for only a half of a day and the U.S. Olympic Committee didn’t show up at all, Raisman said.
It’s not hard to figure out why. Raisman told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that USA Gymnastics not only ignored the abuse, they even “threatened” her to be quiet when she told them about it.
“I think that when somebody in high power is telling you to be quiet, right when they realized you are abused, I think that that is a threat,” she said. “And especially when their first concern should be to make sure I’m OK, to get information from me, to see if my other teammates were abused, to see what else I knew, to get to the bottom of it.”
Raisman added: “USA Gymnastics just said, ‘We’re handling this. We got this. Like, stop asking us questions. Don’t talk about it because you’re going to tip off the investigation.’ So I didn’t want to jeopardize anything. Come to find out, [USA Gymnastics] didn’t report it right away.”
She said neither organization had reached out to her or conducted a completely independent investigation of the scandal. When USA Gymnastics announced Thursday that it was cutting ties with the Karolyi Ranch, where some gymnasts say they were abused, there were girls training at the facility, Raisman said.
“Talk is cheap,” she said, adding that the organization was “rotting from the inside.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 17, 2018
"I don't think they care, I don't think they're sorry. I think they just release their statements, and it's disappointing." @Aly_Raisman discusses USA Gymnastics' response to the Larry Nassar case with @OTLonESPN. pic.twitter.com/xXwC8XNKqw
— ESPN (@espn) January 17, 2018
According to NBC News, Michigan State University is also facing allegations that it ignored complaints about Nassar for years until the scandal broke in 2016.
Nassar initially defended his ungloved “procedures” as “medically sound” but was forced to fess up when he was caught with a huge cache of child pornography. He’s pleaded guilty to possession of child porn and “to molesting ten girls in Ingham and Eaton counties in a deal that allowed all the accusers to speak.”
Wieber and Raisman decided at the last minute to add their names to list. Teammate McKayla Maroney sent a written statement that called Nassar “a monster of a human being.” The fourth 2012 member, Gabby Douglas, said she was abused but has not given a statement at the hearing.
Simone Biles — the tiny dynamo who took the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro by storm — also submitted an impact statement:
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 15, 2018
I am so proud of you. You are incredible Simone. I stand with you. I am shaking reading your post. I know we will all get through this together. https://t.co/Ziec5Fkhwv
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) January 15, 2018
Biles won the Olympic gold medals in individual all-around, vault and floor exercises and the bronze medal in the balance beam competition in 2016.
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) January 16, 2018