During an interview for an episode 60 Minutes which is set to air Sunday night, three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman confirmed that she was abused by USA Gymnastics’ longtime physician, Larry Nassar. Raisman said,
I am angry. I’m really upset. I see these young girls that come up to me, and they ask for pictures or autographs, whatever it is … I just want to create change so that they never, ever have to go through this.
Raisman’s statement comes about a month after fellow USA Gymnastics teammate McKayla Maroney came forward and said that she experienced abuse by Nassar, starting when she was 13. Jamie Dantzscher, another Olympian, also accused Nassar of abusing her.
As per Lansing State Journal, Nassar has allegedly abused over 140 women under the pretense of providing medical care. He started working as the team physician for USA Gymnastics in 1996 and was fired in 2015.
Raisman has been openly critical of how USA Gymnastics addressed complaints about sexual abuse. She said,
It doesn’t matter if you’re the Olympic champion or you’re an 8-year-old that goes to gymnastics in Ohio, or wherever you are in the United States…Every single kid is important, and I want USA Gymnastics to do a better job with that.
She continued, saying,
It’s important to speak up for something and it’s right. It’s the right thing. More people need to talk about it and I just feel that it’s not getting enough attention in the sport. That’s what bothers me. I want these young girls to know. It should have never ever happened and I think that needs to be discussed more.
Maroney indicated that Nassar had abused her at the 2011 world championships, where he gave her a sleeping pill. She said, “…the next thing I know I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night.”
Via social media during the #MeToo movement about sexual assault awareness, Maroney wrote,
People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood. This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting.
Nassar now faces 22 to 27 years in prison after having plead guilty to federal child pornography charges, as well as several criminal sexual misconduct charges in Michigan.
USA Gymnastics has recruited former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels to review their practices. Daniels recommended a complete overhaul, with which the team has complied.
In a statement on 60 Minutes, a USA Gymnastics representative said that they are, “very sorry that any athlete has been harmed. We want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.”
[via USA Today]