Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said that it’s a ‘privilege’ that her abuser, Larry Nassar, is behind bars when so many survivors of sexual assault don’t feel comfortable going to law enforecement for help.
But while the 27-year-old is glad to see Nassar in jail, she is still calling for a full investigation into how the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the United States Oympic and Paralympic Committees handled his behvaior, echoing testimony she made last week at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing into the FBI’s botched probe of Nassar’s abuse.
‘What people often don’t realize is abuse isn’t just something you suffer in the moment. It can unfortunatley carry on with you for a really long time,’ Raisman, who has six Olympic medals, said on Monday night’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
‘And the way a survivor heals is linked to how their abuse is handled,’ she added. ‘So the power of one adult supporting a survivor and doing the right thing is so important.’
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said that it’s a ‘privilege’ that her abuser, Larry Nassar, is behind bars when so many survivors of sexual assault don’t feel comfortable going to law enforecement for help
The 27-year-old appeared on Monday night’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central to promote her new Lifetime documentary, ‘Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light’
Raisman appeared on the show to promote her new Lifetime documentary, ‘Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light.’
Speaking remotely, she shared her gratitude that Nassar, 58, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes in 2018 — and noted that other survivors don’t always get that relief.
‘My abuser is in jail, but there were many survivors that I met with that didn’t feel safe going to law enforcement,’ she said.
She added that she is ‘grateful’ that other survivors ‘gave me their time to share their stories with me’ for the documentary, in part because it showed her the ways in which she is fortuante.
‘To hear everyone’s different perspective on what justice meant to them was really eye-opening to me and has really changed the way that I view justice, because I recognize that it’s such a privilege that my abuser is in jail, and just even the fact that I felt comfortable going to law enforcement,’ she said.
‘I know so many other survivors don’t have that, and I don’t want to live in a world like that.’
Raisman is also grateful for all of the public support she and other gymnasts have recelieved.
She said the abuse sometimes still ‘feels like an open wound that won’t heal,’ but the widespread support ‘helps me get out of bed on the toughest days’
She said the abuse sometimes still ‘feels like an open wound that won’t heal,’ but the widespread support ‘helps me get out of bed on the toughest days.’
‘What I didn’t realize when I first came forward is, I hadn’t processed it on my own. So what I think I’m realizing over the last few years is I’m dealing with the abuse personally but also publicly at the same time,’ she said.
‘I never thought about that, because everything kind of happened so fast, and it was more of a decision of, “I can’t sit back and watch these organizaitons do nothing,”‘ she went on.
Yet Raisman once again blasted the organizations that allowed the abuse to go on for so long.
‘Before I filmed the show, Darkness to Light, with Lifetime, I used to think that justice to me was accountibility. And I still think that it [is] in some capacity,’ she said.
‘I also think that it means that we need to be looking at a full and independent investigation of the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the United States Oympic and Paralympic Committee, and looking at interplay among all three organizations going back decades.
‘Nobody’s off limits. Nothing’s off limits. Access to text messages, date, everything and anything, so we understand who knew what when and there’s no guesswork and no speculation. In my opinion, it’s the only way we can believe in a safer future.
Star athlete: Raisman captained both the 2012 and the 2016 Olympic gymnastics teams. She won three medals at each Games, including two golds in London and another gold in Rio
‘When I was filming the show, we had a bunch of different survivors on, and one of the survivors had mentioned that, to her, justice meant that it never happened. And that is something that has stuck with me and that I’ve thought a lot about.
In 2018, Nassar, 58, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes
‘I think our case has been so public, and while I’m so grateful for the support that we have, from people all over the world, it’s incredible, the organizations and people in positions of power continue to cover it up, gaslight us, and treat us so horribly,’ she said.
‘So I’m trying now in my everyday moments to focus ont he support that I feel from strangers and people in my family, ’cause I know that most survivors don’t get the support that I get. So I do feel very lucky,’ she said.
Raisman also spoke about how she continues to heal, explaining that she is continually working to be more compassionate toward herself.
‘If Maggie [Nichols], McKayla [Maroney], or Simone [Biles] came to me and said that they were struggling, I would listen to them, I would try to be a good friend to them, I would tell them that however they feel is valid, and [to] take time them for themselves,’ she said.
But yesterday, she said, she was having a ‘little bit of a tougher day since I testified,’ and was ‘starting to be a little bit hard on myself, because often I think we can be our own biggest critics.’
‘And I thought to myself, if Simone was calling me right now, I would be nicer to her than I’m being to myself,’ she said.
Raisman also spoke about how she continues to heal, explaining that she is continually working to be more compassionate toward herself
‘If Maggie [Nichols], McKayla [Maroney], or Simone [Biles] came to me and said that they were struggling, I would listen to them, I would try to be a good friend to them,’ she said
‘So I think the biggest thing in my healing is recognizing I need to have self-compassion and be nice to myself.
‘And coming from the sport of gymnastics, where it’s all about trying to be perfect, that’s hard for me to do, and even when I do interviews, I watch them back and I’m hard on myself if I feel like I didn’t say the right thing. Because I know that so many survivors don’t have the platform that I have and I take that very seriously.
‘So the biggest thing for me has been being nice to myself and treating myself the way that I would treat a loved one or someone that I care about, but it’s definitely something that I work on and it’s a struggle sometimes.’
On September 15, Raisman joined fellow star athletes and Nassar victims McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Simone Biles to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The four women testified that they were made to feel the years of abuse they suffered ‘wasn’t a big deal’ when they reported it to FBI agents, who then failed to investigate their allegations and then tried to cover-up their inaction when it came to light.
Raisman delivered one of the hearing’s most chilling lines, blasting the FBI for failing to properly investigate their initial abuse claims against Nassar, leaving him free to abuse another 120 children.
On September 15, Raisman joined fellow star athletes and Nassar victims McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Simone Biles to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Raisman delivered one of the hearing’s most chilling lines, blasting the FBI for failing to properly investigate their initial abuse claims against Nassar, leaving him free to abuse another 120 children
Raisman, who was captain of the 2012 Fierce Five women’s women’s Olympic gymnastics team that earned gold, said it ‘disgusts me’ that they are ‘still fighting’ for accountability years later.
‘We are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later,’ she said.
Raisman said authorities knew of at least six victims in 2015 but didn’t act.
‘In 2015 it was known that at least six national team athletes had been abused by Nassar. There was even one of the athletes that was abused on film,’ she said.
‘Given our abuser’s unfettered access to children, stopping him should have been a priority.
‘Instead, the following occurred: The FBI failed to interview pertinent parties in a timely manner.
‘It took over 14 months for the FBI to contact me despite my many requests to be interviewed by them.
‘Nassar found more than 100 new victims to molest. It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter,’ she said.
‘Given our abuser’s unfettered access to children, stopping him should have been a priority,’ she said. ‘Instead, the following occurred: The FBI failed to interview pertinent parties in a timely manner’
‘Nassar found more than 100 new victims to molest. It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter,’ she said
When agents finally spoke with her about the abuse, Raisman said they tried to ‘convince me that it wasn’t that bad.’
‘I remember sitting with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn’t that bad. It’s taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter,’ she said.
Raisman said the FBI, the USAG, and the USOPC also have a ‘long history of enabling abuse by turning a blind eye — both organizations knew of Nassar’s abuse long before it became public.’
Raisman told the committee she also felt ‘pressured by the FBI to consent to Nassar’s plea deal.’
The former gymnast called for an independent investigation into the FBI, USAG and the USOPC so that ‘from there, then we will know the answers of who should be held accountable.’
On September 16, the star appeared on the Today show to discuss her testimony.
Timeline of the FBI’s botched handling of the Larry Nassar case
July 2015: Nassar’s first accuser Maggie Nichols comes forward to USA Gymnastics over the abuse at the hands of Nassar. USAG president and CEO Stephen Penny reports the allegations to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, headed by Special Agent in Charge William Jay Abbott, and provides agents with the names of three victims willing to be interviewed. No investigation is opened
September 2015: FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Langeman interviews one gymnast McKayley Maroney over the phone. He does not document the meeting in an official report – a 302 – for another 17 months
Two days later, Abbott emails Penny and tells him ‘pertinent interviews have been completed’
October 2015: Abbott meets Penny in a bar to ask about him possibly getting a security job at the US Olympic Committee
May 2016: USA Gymnastics officials meet with the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and give them the same information they had given to Indianapolis. The LA office opens an investigation
August 2016: Michigan State’s campus police receive a sexual assault complaint against Nasser and open an investigation
December 2016: Nassar is arrested and charged with possessing sexually explicit images of children
February 2017: The FBI finally documents the 2015 interview with Maroney but – the DOJ watchdog later reveals – it is full of materially false statements and omits key information
March 2017: When Penny resigns from his role at USA Gymnastics, Abbott emails a friend about potentially applying for his job
December 2017: Nassar pleads guilty to federal child porn charges and is sentenced to 60 years in prison
January 2018: Abbott retires from the FBI
February 2018: Nassar pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct and is sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison
2018: DOJ inspector general launches investigation into FBI’s handling of sexual abuse probe
July 2021: DOJ inspector general releases damning report finding the FBI made numerous serious errors in investigating allegations against Nassar, failing to act for months and attempting to cover up the missteps. It also found Abbott ‘made materially false statements’ during his interviews with the watchdog