In her new book, “Fierce,” Olympic gymnast and Needham native Aly Raisman details her history with — and alleged abuse by — USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Nassar has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 130 women and girls, many of whom were his patients. Many of his accusers recalled vaginal or anal penetration without consent and without Nassar wearing gloves. He is awaiting trial on sexual assault charges. He pleaded guilty in July to child porn charges.
Raisman went into detail in her book — which will be released on Tuesday — about how she met Nassar, her experiences with him, and why she finally came to the decision to speak up about her experience with him. The Globe obtained a copy of Raisman’s book on Friday evening.
The passages offer new insight into not only Raisman’s dealings with Nassar, but also how he was viewed and treated during his career with USA Gymnastics.
In a jarring chapter spread over 12 pages, Raisman spelled out how she came to the conclusion that she had been allegedly sexually abused by Nassar.
Earlier in the book, Raisman wrote that when she was 15, a USA Gymnastics staffer urged her to meet with Nassar after she saw Raisman wincing throughout practice in Australia, even though Raisman wrote she just wanted to sleep. However, the staffer pushed, saying that Nassar was “the best there is” and that it was “a huge honor” he was working with the team.
“I didn’t want to be labeled as uncooperative, so finally I said okay,” Raisman said. Nassar came to her hotel room, but Raisman wrote that she didn’t think much of it because she was wearing leggings and there were two other people in the room: “There was something about the massage that made me uncomfortable, but the staff member’s words stuck in my head.”
Years later, when Raisman encountered a different doctor, she noted out loud that he was wearing gloves. When the doctor laughed and told her that of course he was, Raisman thought to herself, “Not everyone wears gloves.”
Raisman then recounted getting a visit from an investigator in July 2015. Raisman originally told USA Gymnastics she was too busy to meet with the investigator, but then-president Steve Penny urged her to take the interview: “You are the team captain, and I need you to do this for me,” Penny said, according to Raisman.
When the investigator came, she asked if Raisman knew why she was there.
“I hope this isn’t about Larry Nassar,” Raisman recalled thinking to herself. “But I dismissed the thought. I trusted him, because he was nice to me, and because he had tons of awards. . . The whispers couldn’t be true.”
In a flashback, Raisman wrote that after working with other doctors — who made sure to cover her hips and backside while working on her hamstrings — she realized the contrast in practices.
“It was different with Larry,” she wrote, although she did not specifically outline how. “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.”
Raisman wrote she “dreaded” her time with him, but pushed her feelings aside because Nassar had such a high station and praise from other adults she trusted.
“Who was I, a mere teenager with no medical training, to say any different, or to question his methods?” she wrote.
Raisman wrote that she wouldn’t go into specifics about what happened — “that information is private” — but she did note that she was “very sheltered and innocent” when receiving treatment from Nassar.
“That’s probably why I didn’t question why Larry would sometimes close his eyes or seem out of breath when he worked on me,” she wrote, saying she would make excuses for him — like maybe he was just tired. “I felt guilty for thinking badly of someone everyone else liked.”
Raisman wrote that Nassar also always brought the girls treats like croissants and candy, and that he always had kind words for them.
“When I was alone with him, even when he seemed to be crossing a line, he would often distract me by saying how great I was doing in training sessions,” she wrote.
Raisman also wrote that Nassar told her in March 2015, without conducting any medical tests, that she would need surgery — a comment she recounted peevishly to her mother afterward.
“I hate him. He’s so irritating. I wish he’d just go away,” Raisman told her mom — a comment that surprised the elder Raisman.
Raisman might also unknowingly have been one of the catalysts that contributed to Nassar’s downfall. She wrote that a female coach overheard comments that she and other girls made about Nassar while training. The coach reported their remarks to USA Gymnastics.
“Most of us thought the way he touched us was weird. But he did it to so many of us that we assumed, blindly, that he must know something we didn’t,” Raisman wrote.
Shortly after, Nassar announced that he was retiring, but Raisman and her mom called USA Gymnastics to find out if they had gone to the authorities.
“They assured us that the situation was being handled, and said that we shouldn’t interfere,” Raisman wrote.
Flashing forward to the meeting with the investigator, Raisman admitted that with her focus on the Rio Olympics, she told the woman that no one in the organization made her feel uncomfortable, and made excuses for Nassar when asked directly about him.
“I was terrified the media would find out, and bring it up at every turn, before I was ready to talk about it, before I had even begun to process it myself,” she wrote. “I was overwhelmed with emotion.”
Afterward, Raisman wrote she tried to call USA Gymnastics to speak about the things she would have told the investigator if she wasn’t in shock, but was told that she “needed to stop speaking about Larry.”
“I barely slept. I kept rubbing my eyes, as if I could rub out all those horrible memories,” she wrote. “Maybe it had all been a terrible dream?”
Finally, Raisman wrote that she understood.
“We had been so manipulated. It had all been intentional,” she wrote. “He had taken advantage of me. . . I wanted to throw up. Realizing you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse is a horrible, sickening feeling.”
Raisman wrote that she had been planning to keep her experience private, but decided to talk about it publicly “in hopes that it might help people who are going through something similar.”
“If a sexual predator is committing assault, the unfortunate reality is that it might not be their first time, and probably isn’t their last,” she wrote. “That makes it even more scary, realizing it can happen to anyone. I know that now, because it happened to me.”
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