The US Olympic Committee and USA gymnastics, the national governing body for gymnastics, have been in hot water for months over their mishandling of sexual assault allegations — and things don’t look like they’ll be easing up any time soon.
On Friday, NBC news reported that Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is taking them to court.
In January, former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for abusing as many as 265 girls and women, the BBC reported. Raisman and several of her Olympic teammates were among Nassar’s victims, and the gold medalist joined dozen of other women and girls in testifying against Nassar at his trial.
But even with Nassar sentenced to a life behind bars, justice for his many, many victims is not yet served.
The buck doesn’t stop with Nassar, but those who were responsible for putting him in a position of power and allowed him to remain in that position for years despite the numerous concerns that had been raised.
When women started speaking out about Nassar’s abuse “more than a year after the USOC [said] they knew about Nassar, they were dismissed,” Raisman pointed out during her speech at Nassar’s trial.
In 2016, “the president of the USOC said that the USOC would not conduct an investigation and even defended USA Gymnastics as one of the leaders in developing policies to protect athletes,” she continued.
Raisman vehemently disagrees with that claim.
Raisman’s lawsuit alleges that, at times, Nassar sexually violated girls in the presence of USA Gymnastic trainers. The suit also claims that USA Gymnastics had received at least one complaint of abuse, from national team member Maggie Nichols, which it did not report to the FBI, NBC News reported.
According to the court papers, Raisman’s suit argues that the organizations knew — or at the very least, should have known — about Nassar’s abuse.
The lawsuit says that, at one point, USA Gymnastics asked Nassar not to constantly take photos of the girls and that the organizations should have suspected pedophilia based on his behavior. In December of 2017, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography charges — he was found in possession of at least 37,000 photos and videos of child pornography, the Indy Star reported.
The claims in the lawsuit should come as no surprise. This is not the first time Raisman has called out USA Gymnastics’ failure to protect young female athletes.
During her testimony at Nassar’s trial, Raisman even singled out the organization’s leader and called for action.
“USA Gymnastic, put out a statement attributed to its president and CEO Kerry Perry, saying she came to listen to [these] courageous women...This sounds great, Ms. Perry, but at this point, talk is cheap,” Raisman said.
“I know you weren’t around for most of this. But you accepted the position of president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, and I assume by now you are very well aware of the weighty responsibility you’ve taken on,” she said. “A word of advice: Continuing to issue statements of empty promises thinking that will pacify us will no longer work.”
Though the US Olympic Committee ordered the resignation of USA Gymnastics’ board and announced it would launch an independent investigation into abuse allegations after Raisman called the committee out, the Olympian said little has changed.
Will the USOC & USAG be looking into all factors that contributed 2 ALL abuse? There have been many allegations of USAG’s mishandling of abuse over the years, & they aren’t limited to just Nassar. Why not release it to the public at the same time it’s released 2 the USOC & USAG? pic.twitter.com/qeyV1xJlVC— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) February 3, 2018
“After all this time, [the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics] remain unwilling to conduct a full investigation, and without a solid understanding of how this happened, it is delusional to think sufficient changes can be implemented," she said in a press statement.
"I refuse to wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing. It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed.”
After years of enduring Nassar’s abuse, Raisman is out for justice — and she won’t be stopped.
“I have both power and voice and I am only beginning to just use them,” Raisman told Nassar at his trial.
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