14th November 2017

Sex abuse claims mount against former USA Gymnastics doctor

Aly Raisman, a US gymnast who won five Olympic medals – including three golds – is the latest US gymnast to allege that she was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. In an interview with 60 Minutes (video below), Raisman hints at her anger at USA Gymnastics for failing to protect her and other athletes allegedly abused by Nassar.

“I am angry and I’m really upset”, Raisman told 60 Minutes. “Why are we looking at why didn’t the girls speak up? Why not look at – what about the culture? What did USA Gymnastics do, and Larry Nassar do, to manipulate these girls so much that they are so afraid to speak up?”

Raisman said that she had spoken to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about her allegations against Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to child pornography charges after images were found at his home.  He will be sentenced on 7 December.

It is understood Nasser denies charges that he molested women. In February, Jessica Howard, Jeanette Antolin and Jamie Dantzscher told 60 minutes (video below) that they had been the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Nasser whilst part of the USA Gymnastics team.

McKayla Maroney (pictured) also alleged that she had been molested by Nasser from the age of 13, including prior to her London 2012 gold medal. ‘For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old’, she wrote in a post on Twitter (since deleted, but reproduced below). ‘I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo. He’s given me a sleeping pill for the flight, and the next thing I know, I was alone with him in his hotel room getting a “treatment”. I thought I was going to die that night.’

‘We are appalled by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career’, read a USA Gymnastics statement. ‘We are hard at work to strengthen that commitment by: adopting the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy; hiring a new President and Chief Executive officer who emphasizes empowerment throughout the organization; building a safe sport department that is developing a comprehensive education plan for members; and creating an implementation plan for the recommendations made by an experienced, former federal prosecutor who carefully examined the organization’s past policies. The Safe Sport Policy strengthens policies that include mandatory reporting, defines six types of misconduct, sets standards to prohibit grooming behavior and prevent inappropriate interaction, and establishes greater accountability.’

Katy Perry replaced Steve Penny as President and Chief Executive of USA Gymnastics earlier this month, after Penny resigned over the allegations in March. A timeline relaying USA Gymnastics’ response to the allegations against Nasser is available here. This includes a Report produced by independent lawyer Deborah Daniels containing recommendations for change; as well as a new Safe Sport Policy, introduced in June this year.

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