A former doctor for the US Olympic gymnastics team was told “the tables have turned” as dozens of his sexual abuse accusers faced him down in court.
Larry Nassar is set to serve life in jail following years of sexual abuse at his home and sports clinic at Michigan State University, having pleaded guilty to abusing girls there between 1998 and 2015.
During his sentencing hearing this week, Nassar has sat through impact statements from more than 80 women who have accused him of abuse both at home and abroad – including during the London Olympics in 2012 – with more still to be heard.
Gymnast Aly Raisman – part of the gold-winning US women’s team at the 2016 Rio Games – told the disgraced 54-year-old in court on Friday: “The tables have turned. We are here. We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.
“You are so sick. I can’t even comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you. You took advantage of our passions and our dreams.”
But she added: “You have not taken gymnastics away from me. I love this sport, and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you, in those who enabled you to hurt many people.”
Nassar, who has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography charges, worked with USA Gymnastics (USAG) for three decades in addition to his role at the university, where he was employed until September 2016.
Among those to speak out this week were Jordyn Wieber, who won a gold medal in London, and fellow Olympian McKayla Maroney, who spoke of how she was abused by Nassar during a trip to Tokyo when she was just 15.
She said he gave her a sleeping pill and she awoke to find him molesting her.
In a written statement read out by a prosecutor in court, the 22-year-old said: “I thought I was going to die that night. He abused my trust. He abused my body. And left scars on my psyche that may never go away.
“Because national team training camps did not allow parents to be present, my mom and dad were unable to observe what Nassar was doing. And this has imposed a terrible and undeserved burden of guilt on my loving family.”
USA Gymnastics has come under fire throughout the hearing, with Miss Wieber telling the court how Nassar had unrestricted access to young hopefuls bidding for their breakthrough.
She said: “To this day, I still don’t know how he could have been allowed to do this for so long. My teammates and I were subjected to his medical care every single month at the national team training centre in Texas. He was the only male to be allowed in the dorm rooms to do whatever treatments he wanted.
“He was allowed to treat us in hotel rooms alone without any supervision. Nobody was protecting us from being taken advantage of. Nobody was even concerned whether or not we were being sexually abused.”
She continued: “I was not protected and neither were my teammates. Our bodies were all hanging by a thread in London. Who was the doctor that USAG sent to keep us healthy and get us through?
“The doctor that was our abuser. The doctor that is a child molester.”
Among Nassar’s other accusers are Miss Raisman and Miss Maroney’s gold-winning teammates from Rio, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, who revealed she had been abused in a social media post using the #MeToo hashtag.
USA Gymnastics announced on Thursday that it would cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch, the longtime training centre for elite athletes in Huntsville, Texas, where Miss Biles said she was abused – although Miss Raisman pointed out on Friday that “they had athletes training there the day they released the statement”.
“I have no words for that,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilna responded.
Nassar has been accused of molesting more than 100 female athletes, but their attorney John Manly said the total number could be high as 160.
Many of the accusers have sued Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee, with women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages having resigned after she was suspended for defending Nassar for years.
It is not yet clear whether Nassar will be sentenced on Friday or Monday.