Aly Raisman thinks former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar is a “monster.”
Last Friday, the 23-year-old gymnast publicly accused Nassar of sexual abusing her eight years ago. Nassar currently faces 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, though he has previously denied the allegations against him and has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges.
After Raisman made allegations against Nassar last week, E! News reached out to Nassar for a response. His attorney said he was unable to comment, due to a gag order in his criminal trial.
Raisman, who wrote about the alleged abuse in her upcoming memoir Fierce, sat down with Today’s Hoda Kotb for a live interview Monday to explain why she decided to finally tell her story. “From the moment that I realized that it happened to me, I wanted to talk about it. And then when I found out I was going to be writing a book, I felt like I wanted to include the best moments of my life, but also the worst moments of my life, because they both make us into who we are—although the hardest parts are really difficult to talk about. Even right now, it’s uncomfortable and it’s hard for me to talk about, but it’s made me into a stronger person,” Raisman said. “If you’re going to write a book, you have to include everything, in my opinion.”
At the time of the alleged abuse, Raisman explained, she thought Nassar was “weird,” not predatory. “I really didn’t know what was happening to me. He was a doctor and he told met that his ‘treatment’ would help heal all of my injuries. I was so young. I had never really worked with another doctor or trainer before, and everyone said he was the best. He would give me these gifts. So, I really thought he was my friend. He always seemed like he had my back,” she said. Now that she’s older and had time to process what happened, she said, “He was such a master manipulator, and I think that’s what’s important for people to understand. These monsters are so good at manipulating you. You’re so brainwashed…I thought he was so nice.”
Raisman called Nasaar a “monster” and said she stands in solidarity with “other survivors.” USA Gymnastics previously said it “first learned of an athlete’s concern” about him on June 17, 2015.
For years, she was scared to talk about the alleged abuse. “It’s totally normal to be afraid of what people are going to think of you, and I think society sometimes makes it hard for people to come forward, because you always have people that victim shame,” she said. “We have to stop that, because it’s awful. I just wanted to do the right thing. I knew it was the right thing.”