CHICAGO, Jan 20, (AFP): Gymnastics star Aly Raisman on Friday faced down disgraced national team doctor Larry Nassar in court, calling him “sick” and demanding an independent probe to find out how he was apparently able to abuse young girls for years with impunity.
Raisman’s statement came on day four of searing testimonies from Nassar’s victims at his sentencing hearing. At least 85 victims have spoken and more have signed up to speak on Monday when the session is to resume, officials said.
Raisman slammed the institutions where Nassar worked and was seemingly able to commit abuse undetected, lashing out at USA Gymnastics for “rotting from the inside.”
Raisman’s statements came shortly after her 2012 Olympic teammate Jordyn Wieber publicly revealed for the first time that she also had been abused by Nassar, starting from age 14.
Raisman, Wieber and two other members of the so-called “Fierce Five” 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning squad — Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney — have all said Nassar molested them in the guise of medical treatment.
Olympians Simone Biles, the reigning all-around champion from the Rio Games in 2016, and Jamie Dantzscher, who competed in Sydney in 2000 and took home a bronze medal, have also revealed that they were abused.
The 54-year-old Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts, but prosecutors and civil attorneys have said there are more than 100 victims.
The list includes his onetime family babysitter and athletes in several women’s sports programs at Michigan State University, where Nassar worked.
He is already facing 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
This week, victims came forward one after the next to give impact statements to the judge who is considering Nassar’s sentence.
The women have spoken of the profound consequences of his abuse — such as struggling with depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide, and of parents suffering with guilt.
Many of the victims over the past four days have criticized USA Gymnastics, MSU and the US Olympic Committee for not stopping Nassar sooner.
Under mounting pressure, USA Gymnastics announced Thursday it would cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch, a longtime training center for elite athletes in Huntsville, Texas — where Biles says she was abused by Nassar.
Raisman was however unmoved by their announcement, saying Friday that gymnasts were still training at the center as the announcement was being made.
Michigan State University’s board of trustees on Friday asked the state’s attorney general’s office to conduct an outside review.