‘FIERCE’ METTLE TO SPEAK OUT
Raisman book alleges sexual abuse by USA Gymnastics doc
Aly Raisman’s decision to bare her soul and reveal the sexual abuse allegedly inflicted by her team doctor when she was a teen is the pinnacle of bravery.
I’m sickened by the parade of predators revealed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. But it’s incredible to see the women — and men — courageously going public.
Aly is America’s sweetheart, a three-time Olympic gold medal gymnast and a role model to a legion of young girls. Now 23, Raisman reports in her book, “Fierce,” being released today, that she was sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, the trusted team doctor for USA Gymnastics.
The Needham native was 15 when she was first treated by Nassar.
“It wasn’t until I started seeing other doctors and athletic trainers that I began to realize that their methods were far different from Larry’s,” she wrote. “When I lay on my stomach to have my hamstrings worked on, towels were draped over my hips and buttocks for privacy and to ensure that there was no inappropriate skin-to-skin contact. They never, ever crossed any lines in where they massaged.
“And there was never a moment when their methods made me uncomfortable. It was different with Larry. I would lie on the table, my hands involuntarily balling themselves into fists as his ungloved hands worked their way under my clothing. ‘Treatment sessions’ with him always made me feel tense and uncomfortable. I would grit my teeth,” she wrote, “trying to convince myself that all this was part of the healing process. The truth was he never made my injuries feel any better, but I always obeyed because he had a reputation for being the best doctor.”
Nassar, she wrote, would sometimes close his eyes or seem out of breath.
“More than once I would make excuses for his strange behavior,” she wrote. “‘He must be tired from a long day,’ I would think, and wonder why he made me so uncomfortable. I felt guilty for thinking badly of someone everyone else liked.”
More than 130 women have accused Nassar of sexual assault.
“I’m so glad and proud of her to know that she didn’t think twice about being identified as a victim,” former prosecutor and victim rights advocate Wendy Murphy said of Raisman. “People look up to her, heroic in so many ways as a symbol of strength and success and fortitude and determination. And when she speaks up, and says it happened to me too, that means everybody can feel comfortable coming forward.”
It’s encouraging to see so many women coming forward. But it’s sad that this conversation took so long to happen.
‘DIFFERENT WITH LARRY’: Needham native Aly Raisman, seen at left during the 2016 Summer Games, is accusing former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, above, of sexual abuse.